FDA takes on homeopathic drugs with potential safety risks

The US Food and Drug Administration plans to go after homeopathic remedies that are unsafe for consumers and offer un...

Posted: Dec 20, 2017 1:54 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2017 1:55 AM

The US Food and Drug Administration plans to go after homeopathic remedies that are unsafe for consumers and offer unproven benefits in the treatment of serious illnesses, such as cancer and asthma, the agency announced Monday.

The proposal takes a firmer grip on homeopathic drugs, which are sold in the US without proof that they are safe and effective, as with formal FDA drug approval. Currently, no homeopathic drugs are FDA-approved.

The FDA plans to pursue homeopathic drugs that are unproven and unsafe

Such drugs can cause symptoms similar to the conditions they claim to treat

"People may be placing their trust and money in therapies that may bring little to no benefit in combating serious ailments, or worse -- that may cause significant and even irreparable harm," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

These drugs -- which make up a growing, nearly $3 billion market, the agency said -- claim to treat illnesses using substances that can cause similar symptoms in a healthy person, the FDA cautioned. These may include plants, minerals and even animal excretions. Many scientific studies have found no evidence that these drugs are effective against cancer, dementia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and a host of other conditions.

The agency said that most homeopathic remedies will not be affected by the newly proposed policy and will remain on shelves. But if the new guidelines become final, the agency will step up enforcement against certain categories of homeopathic drugs it considers to be more risky. These include drugs whose ingredients are potentially toxic or harmful, drugs that are not taken orally or topically, and those marketed to people with life-threatening conditions and "vulnerable populations" like children and the elderly.

The FDA has taken action against specific homeopathic products in the past, including infant teething gels whose main ingredient, belladonna, was associated with seizures and deaths. An intranasal cold remedy containing zinc was also found to cause a loss of smell in some users. Other remedies have contained a toxic substance called strychnine, which is also used as a rat poison in higher doses.

This is not the first time that homeopathic drugs have come under FDA scrutiny. In 2015, it held meetings at which critics blasted the agency for not taking a strong enough stance on homeopathic treatments. Others defended the products and the current level of FDA oversight.

The Federal Trade Commission also put pressure on over-the-counter homeopathic remedies last year when it announced that it would ramp up scrutiny of their safety and efficacy claims. Under the FTC policy, which targets "deceptive advertising or labeling," health claims must be based on scientific evidence.

A number of health experts applauded the FDA's proposed crackdown on treatments they view largely as snake oil. However, homeopathic advocates believe that these products can be beneficial and harmless.

The National Center for Homeopathy, a nonprofit based in New Jersey that works with industry partners, said in a statement from its board of directors that it hopes "this action will not impede access" to homeopathic remedies, though the organization said it supports safety and good manufacturing practices.

The FDA is seeking public comments on its proposal for 90 days before putting final touches on the policy.

"We respect that some individuals want to use alternative treatments," Gottlieb said, "but the FDA has a responsibility to protect the public from products that may not deliver any benefit and have the potential to cause harm."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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