New homeopathy class action: this time, Whole Foods

Shelf sign: Homeopathy is nonreturnable

Homeopathy is nonreturnable

The writing is on the wall for companies that sell homeopathy as “medicine”:

Audet & Partners, LLP reports that a new class action lawsuit recently brought in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida challenges claims made by Whole Foods Market, Inc. regarding products including Cough Ease for Kids, Cough Ease, Flu Ease and Arnica Montana 30C.  Each of these claims are based on the assertion that the company extracted a premium for these products from potentially hundreds of thousands of consumers by claiming that the products effectively treat the flu, as well as coughing and other symptoms in children as well as adults.

Instead, claim the class action plaintiffs, these products are, at worst, toxic, and, at best, include active ingredients in such watered-down concentrations so as to be depleted of any biological effect on the human body.  As such, the class action complaint alleges that “homeopathic products” distributed by Whole Foods are worthless, and consumers should be entitled to compensation based on the company’s false advertising and other theories.

A central issue implicated by the Whole Foods homeopathic product class action is the fact that “homeopathic products” are not subject to review and/or approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  The plaintiffs argue that Whole Food misled consumers by asserting medicinal qualities of the products in question, while concealing the fact that such products are immune from FDA evaluation and regulation.

As a consumer movement towards more organic, and less synthetic products, has gained momentum, an increasing number of class action lawsuits have been brought against companies claiming that their organic products have homeopathic or medicinal qualities. Companies may he held responsible for significant monetary damages in court if found to have deceived consumers about the asserted positive benefits of their products.

Homeopathy isn’t medicine, because placebos aren’t medicine. It’s an elaborate placebo system where sugar pills are claimed to have medicinal effects. Regulators turn a blind eye and what’s on the shelf is unequivocally unethical from a pharmacy perspective – yet you can find it on the shelves of many pharmacies. It’s just a matter of time before an ambitious litigator takes a pharmacy chain to court for putting homeopathy alongside real medicine in pharmacies. Note the description of the harm:

“Whole Foods is not only taking advantage of consumers’ desire for natural medicine, but also deceiving consumers into believing that Whole Foods’ products are effective, regulated drugs that are held to the same standards as true medical drugs and nonhomeopathic OTC drugs,” the complaint states.

The plaintiffs claim Whole Foods violated the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act, which prohibits unfair methods of competition, unconscionable acts or practices and unfair or deceptive acts or practices in conduct of any trade or commerce.

Pharmacies that sell homeopathy shouldn’t be surprised when they’re also targeted for selling “medicine” without any medicine in it.

 

17 thoughts on “New homeopathy class action: this time, Whole Foods

  1. i have been using Homeopathy medicines since 25 years , i found excellent results, very effective, benign, less cost, no side-effects whatsoever. not only myself i have treated more than 5000 patients , 90% good results and hey all satisfied. i have treated from infants to 95 years old patients with excellent result. i have seen hundreds of cases that those under your so called scientific, proven only on animals and research basis claimed allopathic medicines are suffering from severe side effects, even unnatural deaths, even then they are ignorants about dangerous side-effects of allopathics , chemical based , toxic medicines. your science based medicines recommendation is double edged dark mask covered and playing with human life for the sake of money making business. you are abusing natural treatments, it is like abusing the God itself.

    CS VENKATESH

    • Please define “good results”. Compared to what? Were the outcomes better than a placebo? Without blind trials, your observations are purely anecdotal.

      At least our scientific, proven and research based medicines are just that.

      • FOOLS cannot believe , practically experience yourself with strong will power and belief only can yield result.. those have bad health due to their own sin because of rubbish bad lifestyle, how nature can help you. respect nature and get blessed.

      • “If only you believe” – the rallying cry for con artists for thousands of years.

        Snake oil remedy doesn’t work? Blame the victim. They’re a ‘fool’ or ‘didn’t believe hard enough’.

        Sorry buddy, but you’re full of BS.

      • You’re not going to get proof. just look at his/her username. a belief in healing via mystical energy needs no actual measurable proof! magical thinking and positive selective memory is all that is required. the only thing homeopathy can cure is dehydration, and in OTC homeopathy, they even ruin that by making almost everything into sugar pills. (i guess sugar can be taught to magically remember how to heal just like water?)

    • WHAT have you treated with success? What do you consider success? Prove it! And how is homoeopathy “natural”? Isn’t it manufactured in a factory or lab and put into a bottle as well? Lastly, you speak of pharma companies being in it for the money – are the homoeopathics you give out free? Are you doing it for charity or do you support yourself? If you make ANY money from this, you are a total hypocrite.

    • “for the sake of money making business”

      I see. So you treat people for free and give away your homeopathic sugar pills? Oh, I’m sorry..they cost how much? And Boiron, the leading manufacturer of homeopathic ‘remedies’ in the world, has a yearly profit of how many billions?

      Please…go on and tell us how the herbal/homeopathic/naturopathic industry is purely about good health and puppies.

  2. Santa Monica, California, where my elderly mother lives, has a homeopathic pharmacy, proudly trumpeted in Friday’s local paper for having their 70th anniversary. ( http://smdp.com/santa-monica-homeopathic-pharmacy-turns-70/142341 ) The article also quotes a proud mother who goes there more than to the grocery store; she’s happy that they provided help and support for her decision not to vaccinate her daughter. They sell supplements, herbs, and have an acupuncturist on staff. I just finished writing a letter to the local paper about their uncritical support for this shameful blot on the community. Too bad someone doesn’t sue this pharmacy and put them out of business. Then they could go after all the acupuncturists and naturopaths; the city is loaded with quackery, I’m sorry to say.

  3. Homeopaths are getting pressured more and more to provide proof, proof which none have been able to produce. Hopefully the legal pressure will continue and they will go the way of the snake oil salesman.

  4. It is way past time that the FDA starts to regulate the herbal and homeopathic industry. The claims that are made, or rather, not made (this product not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease) , need be investigated and when proven to be useless, taken off the market. And the manufacturer heavily fined.

  5. Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions. (Albert Einstein)

    Both sides are wrong to some extent, as both are correct to some extent. Anyone who doesn’t accept that modern medicine regularly performs what a hundred years ago would be considered “miracles” is choosing to be ignorant. Anyone that refuses to accept that homeopathic health is finding new ways to improve health and prevent & cure dis-ease appears none the less a biased halfwit, and apparently with something to loose from the success of alternative health sources.
    Despite a very insightful quote from the Editor of The Lancet, one of the most prestigious peer review journals in the world:

    “The mistake, of course, is to have thought that peer review was any more than a crude means of discovering the acceptability — not the validity — of a new finding. Editors and scientists alike insist on the pivotal importance of peer review. We portray peer review to the public as a quasi-sacred process that helps to make science our most objective truth teller. But we know that the system of peer review is biased, unjust, unaccountable, incomplete, easily fixed, often insulting, usually ignorant, occasionally foolish, and frequently wrong.”
    (http://www.scientificjournals.org/new_vision.htm, 2010)

    we’ll take a look at the “science” of western medicine. Science based folks like stats. Anyone care to guess what percentage of people treated with traditional medicine die each year from: “accurately” prescribed and taken medicine, not-double-blind surgical procedures, and infections just from being in a hospital (as well as other “every day” causes)? And then the same question to homeopathic styles? (Hint. Western Medicine is the 3rd largest killer in the US, despite the annoying little oath “…and first harm none…”
    “An estimate of 440,000 deaths from care in hospitals “is roughly one-sixth of all deaths that occur in the United States each year,” James wrote in his study. He also cited other research that’s shown hospital reporting systems and peer-review capture only a fraction of patient harm or negligent care.” (ProPublica website, 2014)
    Refusing to admit the truth, that both systems have good and less good, and move the dialogue forward toward finding the best of all health processes, is bad for both sides, but much worse, is bad for those looking for better health.
    To say the very “motivated” FDA is an unbiased regulator interested primarilly in health is a blind position. To say Big Pharm would rather promote health for people instead of generate ignoble profits at the expense of the very people they claim to aim to help, is missing the obvious.
    (Again, Richard Horton. “It is our increasingly common experience that we see research papers that manipulate results in favor of new products — both drugs and devices,”)
    To say that homeopathic health systems are not being applied for profit would be inaccurate. Of course, who goes into business not to make money? The point is, none of this is the point. And every conversation and blog that disses all of either system instead of looking for what works with all systems is, either with conscious willful intent, or ignorantly so, exacerbating the problem. By perpetuating such ignorance instead of open-minded persuit of the best information and processes is in itself implicit in more uncessecary deaths. Yes, that means you. Get over your ignorant perspectives, open your minds (if that doesn’t scare you too much), and move forward with finding the best path(s).

  6. “To say that homeopathic health systems are not being applied for profit would be inaccurate. Of course, who goes into business not to make money? The point is, none of this is the point.”

    If that’s not the point, why did you mention it? Sure, lots of people die in hospitals, because people in hospitals are frequently very sick or badly injured. Sure, health professionals make mistakes. That is irrelevant to the discussion. In fact, most of what you say is irrelevant to the discussion. The question you don’t address is: Does Homeopathy Work? Another question you didn’t address is: “What is the plausibility of homeopathy?” If you take the labels off homeopathic “medications” is there any way to tell them apart? There is no known mechanism for imprinting a memory on water, or on water that has been dripped onto a sugar pill and allowed to evaporate. There is no known way a substance, diluted until there is not a molecule left, but only water, could have an effect. There is no evidence that reducing a dose causes an increased response. Therefore, homeopathy has no plausibility. Well-controlled studies show it has no effect. Basically, homeopathy is a fraud, selling water and sugar pills at a huge profit. Fervency of its proponents cannot make it real, no more than all those people believing the earth was flat changed its sphericity. The real issue here is trying to ensure that our beliefs are true, not being certain and only looking at evidence that supports our beliefs.

    Science is open to evidence, but not to anecdote, and certainly not to quackery. Homeopathy can do plenty of harm if people with high blood pressure or diabetes substitute it’s remedies for effective prescription drugs, and it’s a mistake to pretend otherwise. Type 1 Diabetes wasn’t cured by homeopathy; perhaps you should ask why not, since it had about 100 years to cure the condition before science-based medicine changed it from a death sentence to a chronic illness. And homeopathy had about 150 years to cure polio; why do you think it didn’t? Opening your mind doesn’t mean you should accept every anecdote and every implausible proposition, however fervently expressed. Good evidence is the key, and homeopathy is completely lacking in this all-important factor.

    Homeopathy was invented in Germany. Thus it is western, but not medicine. It is based on magical thinking (like cures like, and dilution increases the effect) and is no more scientific than the four humours; are you also into balancing your black and yellow bile? Homeopathy has had plenty of time to demonstrate its efficacy. It has failed. Discarding things that don’t work is a hallmark of science. It’s time to move on. Here’s a link to a news report about the British Parliament study–read it and reconsider, this time with something other than logical fallacies.
    http://www.theguardian.com/science/blog/2010/feb/22/mps-verdict-homeopathy-useless-unethical

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