FDA Targets Homeopathic Remedies

In December the Food and Drug Administration announced a major change in policy regarding homeopathic remedies. As reported in The Washington Post, CNN, and NPR, the FDA has proposed a more aggressive approach to testing and possibly banning, homeopathic drugs that it considers dangerous, especially those intended for children and others with serious illnesses, such as cancer. Critics of the policy change note that while most natural remedies are known for having fewer side effects than many mass market drugs, this could open the door to eliminating otherwise effective “non-pharma” remedies.

On his website Dr. Mercola writes, “The draft guidance is a complete turnaround from the FDA’s prior stance on homeopathic remedies, which stated, under the 1988 Compliance Policy Guide (CPG) 400.400, Conditions Under Which Homeopathic Drugs May be Marketed, they did not need to get FDA approval prior to coming on the market. Instead, the ingredients in homeopathic remedies were to be verified by the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS).”

Dr. Mercola and others point out that it’s more likely that the $3 billion a year market for homeopathic treatments is the driving force behind these renewed attempts to regulate the industry. Advocates for the change charge that there are too many “snake oil” salesmen promoting dangerous, unproven, and untested products that are a threat to consumers. Yet, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health’s National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the remedies are known to be “generally safe and unlikely to cause severe adverse reactions.”