FDA: Crackdown on Homeopathic Remedies
Homeopathic remedies are often unproven, lack scientific research to back up the claims, and can expose patients to significant harm. For these reasons and many others, the FDA is currently considering a number of new rules that would regulate this largely unregulated industry. Nationwide, it is estimated that up to 5 million adults and 1 million children receive homeopathic treatments every year. In total, these individuals spend just under $3 billion on homeopathic treatments, and $170 million for visits to homeopathic practitioners. In Nevada, these practitioners are required to receive and maintain a homeopathic licensure with the state that is similar to those issued to doctors of medicine, nurse practitioners, etc.
FDA Tightens Rules
The homeopathic healthcare industry is loosely regulated and the agency is seeking to focus enhanced scrutiny on the claims of manufacturers and the ingredients they utilize. In particular, the agency will focus more attention on those products that contain potentially hazardous compounds and those that are designed to treat potentially life-threatening health conditions. This focus will include requirements that homeopathic medications meet the same standards regarding quality, strength, and product purity as other medications. These proposed rules are currently at the end of a 90 day public comment period and the agency is expected to take action within the next couple of months.
The Risks and Realities of Homeopathic “Cures”
Homeopathic medicines are alternative treatments that have little to no scientific evidence backing their claims. These “natural” treatments claim to contain everything from herbs and vegetables to fruit pulp and fish oil. These ingredients are often heavily diluted within the pill or oil. Moreover, there is precious little evidence that the medications have a positive effect on anything that they claim to treat, whether it is cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.
Many of these treatments can cause serious harm to the patient. Specifically, these “medications” can contain toxic substances that can complicate existing health conditions or lead to dangerous drug addictions. The use of homeopathic care may also delay the pursuit of genuine medicine such as chemotherapy and other recognized treatments that have known success/failure rates. Delaying such treatment can have lethal consequences as cancer spreads, diabetes worsens, or high blood pressure leads to a fatal heart attack.