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Alternative Medicine Or Death Wish? The FDA Wants Its Say

Alternative Medicine Or Death Wish? The FDA Wants Its Say
[Photo: Flickr user Jonathan Wilson]

Homeopathic medicine yields, according to one survey, billions of dollars–even though there’s typically little scientific evidence supporting the use of its remedies. But that all may be about to change.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is looking to put a microscope to the homeopathic medicine industry and explore the possibility of regulating it, according to Popular Science. In a series of hearings, the FDA will solicit public opinions over whether the scientifically questionable brand of medicine should be regulated in the same manner as over-the-counter drugs.

Often derided as pseudoscience and quackery, homeopathic medicine remains remarkably popular, with many of its adherents swearing by the effectiveness of these technically unproven methods of warding off illness. Even many of the vitamins and herbal supplements sold at places like Walgreens and Target have .

There’s quite a bit of debate over both the ethics and efficacy of this stuff, which doesn’t appear to be going away any time soon. Hence the intrigue of the FDA.

Explains Popular Science:

These untested treatments can put peoples’ lives at risk. Like other drugs, homeopathic remedies can have harmful side effects. But the bigger danger is that these treatments likely do not work beyond the placebo effect. “If it’s not effective, it’s not safe,” Stephen Barrett, who operates the fraud-busting site Quackwatch, told Bloomberg. Asthma patients, for example, could face life-threatening attacks if they choose to rely on unproven homeopathic treatments rather than prescribed treatments.

After the hearings today and tomorrow, the FDA will assess the risks and benefits of homeopathic remedies, and decide what–if anything–it’s going to do about it.

JPT