This weekend has seen the “10-23 challenge” occur, where science advocates worldwide are “overdosing” on homeopathic products, to demonstrate that they contain no active ingredients and have no therapeutic effects. This builds on last year’s event in the UK and Australia, which was a success: absolutely nothing happened to any participant. This year, overdoses have taken place across Canada and around the world. As part of the challenge, this weekend James Randi reiterated a promise to pay $1 million to anyone that can prove homeopathy works. Here’s some excerpts from that announcement, where he points to pharmacies as being part of the problem:
Most homeopathic remedies have no active ingredients whatsoever. Even though they’re sold by major pharmacies, right alongside real medicines, every reputable medical study of these fake drugs has shown them to have no more effect than sugar pills or pure water. Homeopathy is one of the biggest health scams in America, and it’s a problem around the world.
Pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite-Aid, CVS, and a lot of other major retailers are silent accomplices in this scam, profiting by keeping unsuspecting customers in the dark. They sell these fake pills right alongside real medicines with no warning or information about the bogus ideas behind homeopathy. They simply don’t care. But consumers know the facts about homeopathic products, they can avoid them. But ever day, parents of sick children are coming home from their pharmacy with fake medicine, and leaving their children in distress, because these manufacturers and these stores don’t want consumers to know the truth.
Customers are paying real money for fake medicine that leaves innocent people sick and suffering. This has to stop. Today, the James Randi Educational Foundation is issuing a challenge to the manufacturers and a challenge to the retail stores that make money hawking these products.
First, to the manufacturers and practitioners, we challenge you to prove your claims. Prove the scientific studies are wrong. Win back your reputation, and while you’re at it, win $1 million dollars, for you or the charity of your choice. Submit your product for a double-blind, scientifically controlled test and show that a so-called high potency homeopathy remedy, diluted in water until there’s no more of the active ingredient present, is any better at treating any health problem, than just plain water that it’s based on. The scientific protocol will be designed by you and supervised by reputable scientists, all of which you approve of. And if you can prove your remedy works according to homeopathic principles, the James Randi Educational Foundation will give you $1 million dollars.
Second, to the pharmacies and retail stores like CVS, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Target, and Wal-Mart, we challenge you to label it for what it really is. Your consumers have the right to know what they’re buying. No customer of yours should ever walk out the door with a homeopathic product without knowing these basic facts:
- There is no evidence this product does what it says it does
- There is not one bit, not a single atom, of the claimed “active ingredient” in this package
- No U.S. health agency has ever tested or approved this product
The full announcement is here:
Most readers of SBP will know that the regulatory situation is slightly different in Canada, where Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate does approve homeopathic products for sale. I’ve described the differences in the regulatory frameworks for homeopathy previously, and the implications for consumers and health professionals.The challenge has no borders, however, so since approved homeopathic products are deemed “safe and effective” by Health Canada, perhaps someone from Health Canada will step forward to claim Randi’s million dollars.