FTC Issues Enforcement Policy Statement Regarding Over-the-Counter Homeopathic Drugs

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Enforcement Policy Statement

According to an enforcement policy statement released, by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on November 15, 2016, the FTC will begin to hold over the counter (OTC) homeopathic makers to the same standards as other products that make similar claims of treating specific conditions.

Under the new policy, claims “based solely on traditional homeopathic theories and not on valid studies using current scientific methods showing the products efficacy,” will be considered misleading and in violation of the FTC Act.

If each claim is not “substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence,” companies must state clearly on labels:

  1. There is no scientific evidence that the product works.
  2. The product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.

The policy statement also notes that disclosures should stand out, be in close proximity to the products claim and should not be undercut with additional positive statements or consumers endorsements that reinforce the products claims/efficacy.

Although the “Commission announced in 1972 that objective product claims must be substantiated, the FTC has rarely challenged misleading claims for products that were homeopathic or purportedly homeopathic,” but “in light of the burgeoning mainstream marketing of OTC homeopathic products alongside other OTC drugs, the FTC believes it is an appropriate time to issue the enforcement policy statement.

FTC’s enforcement policy statement comes on the heels of the FDA issuing a safety alert and warning parents against using homeopathic teething tables and gels after reports of hundreds of illness and infant deaths.

Posted on WholeFoods Magazine Online, 11/21/2016