For Immediate Release
Contact: Paul Fidalgo
Phone: (207) 358-9785
March 23, 2011
Amherst, NY–March 23, 2011–The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) and the Center for Inquiry (CFI) have received additional support from leading names in the scientific and medical community for their statement “CSI and CFI Urge Wal-Mart to Stop Marketing Homeopathic Remedies,” calling out the retailing giant for selling ineffective cold and flu cures.
Prominent scientists and medical specialists have joined CSIand CFI in publicly asking for Wal-Mart to end its promotion of Boiron Oscillococcinum, a purported remedy for flu symptoms. (Boiron is the manufacturer; oscillococcinum is the homeopathic product.) Additional support is coming from the likes of David Morrison, PhD, former director, NASA Lunar Science Institute and senior scientist, NASA Astrobiology Institute; and Sandra Blakeslee,The New York Timesscience writer and author, to name just two of the signatories.
All of the signatures can be seen on CFI‘s website at http://www.centerforinquiry.net/news/csi_and_cfi_urge_walmart_to_stop_marketing_homeopathic_remedies/. The public has also been invited to add their names to the statement.
There is no credible scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of Boiron Oscillococcinum beyond what is expected from the placebo effect. The allegedly active ingredient of Boiron’s Oscillococcinum consists of mere liquefied duck liver and duck heart, substances early twentieth century homeopaths thought contained a nonexistent bacterium they dubbed “oscillococci.” Moreover, Boiron Oscillococcinum’s homeopathic preparation requires repeatedly diluting the “active ingredient” in water until the odds that the solution contains even a single molecule of it are effectively zero.
CSI and CFI‘s statement reads, in part: “We urge Wal-Mart to cease marketing this ineffective product immediately. Although we recognize that doing so might not serve Wal-Mart’s financial interest, we hope Wal-Mart will act appropriately out of a sense of ethical obligation. The cooperation of good corporate citizens is indispensable if public consumers are to rely on the claims of health-remedy producers and the companies that market their products.”
CSI and CFI contacted Wal-Mart in November 2010 regarding its inaccurate and misleading marketing of Boiron Oscillococcinum and first published the statement in January. To date, Wal-Mart has neither responded to nor acknowledged receipt of the letter it received from CSI and CFI. “We have issued a public statement because Wal-Mart has failed to respond to our privately expressed concerns,” explained Ronald A. Lindsay, president & CEO of both CSI and CFI. “Our goal is not to embarrass Wal-Mart, but to persuade Wal-Mart to stop marketing ineffective products to people who are ill. The health of Wal-Mart’s customers should be more important than the extra dollars to be made by selling junk such as oscillococcinum.”
In the “Medicine Cabinet” section of its website, Wal-Mart assures customers that products such as Boiron Oscillococcinum will “fight colds and the flu.” Wal-Mart’s website further promises to help the customer “stay on top of cold and flu season by learning about products that can help you and your family stay well, relieve symptoms and recover fast.” In its “Cough, Cold, and Flu Buying Guide,” Wal-Mart also asserts that its products will provide the customer “with everything you and your family need for battling a cold or the flu.”
TheCommittee for Skeptical Inquiry is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting scientific inquiry and critical investigation, including critical investigation of claims relating to unconventional healthcare practices, such as acupuncture, therapeutic touch, and homeopathic medicine. CSI’s advisors include a number of leading scientists, some of whom are medical specialists. A list of CSI’s fellows, advisors, and staff is available on CSI’s website at www.csicop.org/about/csi_fellows_and_staff/.
The Center for Inquiry is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization based in Amherst, New York. CFI is home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Our web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.