“Big Pharma” fails to convince TGA of product efficacy

In April last year, pharmaceutical company Key-Sun Laboratories were unable to substantiate claims they had made in an advertisement for a cold & flu product to the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Complains Resolution Panel, Australia’s consumer protection watchdog for therapeutic goods.

The product, “Oscilococinum” is a manufactured by Boiron – who themselves were the target of a million-dollar class-action lawsuit for the same product, which they settled for $5 million dollars.

The findings by the TGACRP outlined in this document noted that Key-Sun, the advertiser, presented two studies to the TGA in an attempt to demonstrate the product was effective in relieving “fever, chills, body aches, and pains” as part of a cold or flu.

The findings include:

The Panel was satisfied that this evidence was not of a type, range, or quality that could support representations made in advertisements directed to consumers. The Panel also noted that the advertiser had not provided evidence that the studies provided reflected the full balance of evidence available in relation to the advertised product.

Big Pharmaceutical companies such as KeySun need reassess just why they are in the market place; this a blatant financial exploitation of the ignorant and misinformed, and their actions only reinforce the false tenants of homeopathics to those who could very well die as a result.

Unsurprisingly, many cynical advocates of homeopathy don’t consider similar products to fall under the category of “conventional” medicine, but considered an alternative to medicine.

I’m inclined to agree – Homeopathy is not medicine.

Homeopathy & The 1023 Campaign Against It

Brauer’s Homeopathic Product

Last year, on Sunday February 6th, 2011, skeptically-minded Sydney-siders participatinged in the 10:23 Challenge.

The lead up to the event was a massive success, far surpassing the intended reach of 1,023 protesters in 10 countries with 23 cities participating. Sydney was one of the 68 cities, from the 28 countries that participated.

That’s every continent on Earth, including Antarctica – where protesters will effectively ‘overdose ‘on homeopathic remedies.

The 2011 event was a follow-up to the ‘overdose’ protest staged by the 10:23 Campaign in 2010, and is was about bringing an international touch to the worldwide practice touted as an “Alternative Medicine”.

In 2012, the “campaign” was understated and is working at the grass-roots level to bring about awareness, and policy changes – with some very exciting action being taken by a number of people nation-wide in Australia!

While many believe homeopathy is to be a “herbal” medicine or an “all-natural” alternative, it is neither.

“Homeopathy is an unscientific and absurd pseudoscience, which persists today as an accepted form of complementary medicine, despite there never having been any reliable scientific evidence that it works.” – 10:23 Campaign Website

In a Nutshell, Homeopathy is the practice of diluting an active ingredient (that may cause similar symptoms to that being experienced in larger doses) in water (which Homeopaths call potentisation), vigorously shaking it via ten hard strikes against an elastic body (succussion), and repeating the process.

The more dilute, the more powerful the remedy. When this is completed to the desired dilution (Usually 30), the final liquid is dropped in to sugar balls, or infused in the sugar pills.

The Gritty Technical Stuff

Homeopathic 30C Preparation

Dilution is based on a factor 1 part per 100. A 2C dilution would require taking an active ingredient, diluting it in 99 parts of alcohol or distilled water, and then some of that diluted solution diluted by a further factor of one hundred.

2C is equal to 1 part per 10,000.
6c is equal to 1 part per 1,000,000,000,000

You can see how by 30C, someone taking this dilution would need to consume 1041 pills (a billion times the mass of the Earth) to consume a SINGLE MOLECULE of the original active ingredient.

That’s 1/100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 pills!

At 12C you pass what is known as the Avogadro Limit (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avogadro_constant). This is the point at which there is likely nothing of your original substance left; and this is where Homeopathy gets even more interesting! Continue reading →

Homeopathy: Placebo or Clinically Proven Treatment?

Homoeopathy:
no better than placebo.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yfRVCaA5o18

UK House of Commons: Science and Technology Committee report ‘Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy.
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/45/45.pdf

Edzard Ernst: A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1874503

It was time that this got a repost; time and time again, the best performed trials and research in to if homeopathy is efficacious, provides a resounding negative result.

But, I think this goes deeper than looking at the evidence.

The key problem is why people THINK they work; and that largely comes down to human psychology, and the failure to recognize a regression to the mean.

HomeopathyPlus to be reviewed by the TGA’s Secretary

A copy of the letter sent to the complainant

HomeopathyPlus is an online retail outlet for products and books about homeopathy; and advocates a number of dangerous concepts to the public under the guise of “informed choice’. Consumer protection groups have highlighted the blatant disregard for the health of Australians demonstrated by HomeopathyPlus’ advertisements in the past.

The latest news is an escalation because of Homeopath, Fran Sheffield’s refusal to adhere to legislation put in place to prevent Australians from being exposed to unbiased, or even fabricated information about the products they are considering to use on their own.

An investigation in to HomeopathyPlus’ unethical advertising practices was initiated after a complaint was registered with the TGA. The complaint was about an advertisement put up on HomeopathyPlus’ website by Fran Sheffield for a “homeopathic prevention for meningococcal disease”.

On the 16th of June 2011, that investigation, by the Therapeutic Goods Administrations’ Complaint Resolution Panel (TGACRP) determined that Fran Sheffield’s advertisement had breached ten sections of legislation.

Specifically, the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code Sections 4(1)(b), 4(2)(a), 4(2)(c), 4(2)(d), 4(2)(f), 4(2)(i), 4(4), 4(5), 5(2), 6 – See the TGACRP’s Determination

This includes the advertising of unrealistic expectations of a products’ effectiveness, abusing the trust of consumers, using language that could bring about fear or distress, and inadequate evidence being presented to support the claims made in the advertisement, despite being given time to both prepare and submit the evidence to support the claims made.

Fran Sheffield, the person responsible for the advertisement on HomeopathyPlus’ website, and the primary profiteer from the advertisement ignored the TGACRP requests to “Withdrawal of representations”, “Withdrawal of advertisement”, and to include a “Publication of a retraction” – None of these have been complied with.

Because of this, the complaint has now been referred to the TGACRP’s Secretary with the recommendation that the Fran Sheffield be ordered to comply with the requests made in the determination.

£51 Pounds for 1L of Water Diluted in Water

20110828-012339.jpg

Bullshit Price for Bullshit Remedy

The folks over at Helios are raking it in with their homeopathic water. That’s right, water diluted in water.

At £51 a liter, it equates to about $78 for us Aussies. It is revealing about the nature of homeopathic manufacturers, given the homeopathic community often rants about the profits made by “Big Pharma”, despite large chunks of that profit being used towards developing new and better medicines.

There is little evidence to show that Helios actually produces any of these remedies in accordance with homeopathic “tradition”. They may use some of the crazier methods like  emptying the vials and refilling them over and over, or having a platform shake a container with their initial ingredient then replacing that container with water, or – they may not even waste their time doing anything at all.

It’s possible Helios are simply selling blank pills and supplying spring water rather than tap water.

It certainly wouldn’t surprise me if they were.

Update: @MLOCallaghan from Nerditorial was kind enough to bring these Homeopathic Ear Wax Drops to my attention:

Expensive "medicine".

At  £44.39 for 10mL, that brings the cost of 1L of these ear drops to £4438. For us Aussies, that’s $6,869/L

Water at that price should be criminal.

WHAT?! — What’s the Harm?!

Quantifying the damage.

What’sTheHarm is designed to make a point about the dangers of not thinking critically. Namely that you can easily be injured or killed by neglecting this important skill.  – At last glance, the casualties, injuries, and cost of not thinking critically came to:

368,379 people killed, 306,096 injured and over $2,815,931,000 in economic damages

The website is operated by Tim Farley, who also does a segment on the Skepticality Podcast on History relevant to skeptics.

It’s a number that can only get bigger, and is far from exhaustive – I would suggest that it barely scratches the surface. Check out the topics available:

Medical

Acupuncture
Alphabiotics
Alternative dentistry
Alternative medicine
Applied kinesiology
Autism denial
Ayurvedic medicine
Chelation therapy
Chiropractic
Colloidal silver
Colon cleansing
Cranio-sacral therapy
Cupping
Detoxification
Ear candling
Energy medicine
Escharotics
Folk remedies
Herbal remedies
HIV/AIDS denial
Holistic medicine
Home childbirth
Homeopathy
Iridology
Naturopathy
Osteopathy
Ozone therapy
Psychic surgery
Vaccine denial
Vitamin megadoses

Supernatural & Paranormal

Astral projection
Curses
Exorcisms
Faith healing
Ghosts
Magick
Psychics
Vampires
Voodoo
Witchcraft

Religion

Breatharianism
Christian Science
Cults
Jehovah’s Witnesses
Religious fundamentalism
Scientology
Transcendental Meditation

Fears

Apocalypse fear
Metal toxicity fear
Satanic ritual abuse
Terrorism fear

Pseudo-Science

Astrology
Attachment therapy
Dowsing
Dream interpretation
Evolution denial
Expert witnesses
Facilitated communication
Feng shui
Hypnosis
Numerology
Reparative therapy
Repressed memory therapy

Misinformation

GPS navigation systems
Internet misinformation

Miscellaneous

Child vegetarianism
Conspiracy theories
Holocaust denial
IRS denial
Moon landing denial
Multi-level marketing
Nigerian emails
Rituals
UFOs

Advertising Standards Authority puts an end to homeopaths Double Standards

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The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered online homeopathy advertisers to stop making claims that their treatments work.

In letters sent to advertisers of homeopathic products over the last three months, the ASA said it had not seen reliable or objective evidence to substantiate their claims.

Read more at Research: Advertising authority clampdown on homeopathy