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Homeopathic drugs must carry labels telling consumers there’s no proof products work, U.S. government says

In this photo taken on Feb. 6, 2009, a collection of homeopathic treatments are displayed in the office of a homeopathic practitioner, in Cambridge, Mass.
In this photo taken on Feb. 6, 2009, a collection of homeopathic treatments are displayed in the office of a homeopathic practitioner, in Cambridge, Mass. Josh Reynolds/AP Photo

The U.S. government is requiring manufactures of so-called homeopathic “medicine” to include labelling on their products which tell consumers there is no scientific proof the product works.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned makers of over-the-counter homeopathic remedies last week that they must provide scientific proof of a product’s effectiveness or must provide a label telling consumers the product is scientifically unproven to work.

“Homeopathy, which dates back to the late-eighteenth century, is based on the view that disease symptoms can be treated by minute doses of substances that produce similar symptoms when provided in larger doses to healthy people,” the FTC said in the statement. “Many homeopathic products are diluted to such an extent that they no longer contain detectable levels of the initial substance. In general, homeopathic product claims are not based on modern scientific methods and are not accepted by modern medical experts, but homeopathy nevertheless has many adherents.”

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As the Washington Post points out, U.S. consumers spent nearly $1.2 billion on homeopathic drugs in 2014 that had not been backed by modern science.

Last year, the FTC conducted a one-day workshop and took comments from the public regarding the marketing of homeopathic remedies and concluded that a policy needed to be put in place to avoid misleading potential consumers.

In the policy statement, the FTC says that in 1988, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued a policy guide which allowed the marketing of homeopathic drugs without proving effectiveness.

Now, the FTC is requiring manufacturers to provide one of the following labels if scientific evidence cannot be provided to prove the product’s effectiveness.

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.

“To be non-misleading, the product and the claims must also comply with requirements for homeopathic products and traditional homeopathic principles,” the FTC said in the statement.