Food for thought: Homeopathic remedies are direct competition for pharmaceutical companies
The Food and Drug Administration held a public hearing April 20 and 21 to evaluate its enforcement policies over homeopathic medicines. According to the FDA, the hearings were held “to obtain information and comments from stakeholders about the current use of human drug and biological products labeled as homeopathic, as well as the agency’s regulatory framework for such products. These products include prescription drugs and biological products labeled as homeopathic and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs labeled as homeopathic. FDA is seeking participants for the public hearing and written comments from all interested parties, including, but not limited to, consumers, patients, caregivers, healthcare professionals, patient groups, and industry. FDA is seeking input on a number of specific questions, but is interested in any other pertinent information participants would like to share.”
Apparently, the FDA has decided to review the process that homeopathic remedies go through for approval. The history of the approval for these remedies plays a part in the FDA’s decision. In 1938, during the early days of the formation of FDA legislation, Democratic Senator Royal Copeland of New York succeeded in his attempt to have an exemption for homeopathic drugs in the drug approval process. This exemption is sensible, as homeopathic remedies’ safety is unsurpassed based on the basic method of preparation.
Homeopathic medicines are still regulated. They have to be approved by the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, which involves verification of the effectiveness of the preparation.
The concern with this review is that it would give the FDA control over homeopathic remedies and control whether or not they are allowed to be sold to the public. Detractors of this process point to the fact that homeopathic remedies are direct competition for the pharmaceutical industry and that the FDA is too closely tied to that industry.
The FDA’s questionable relationship with the pharmaceutical industry started in 1993, when a law was passed that a large portion of the money for new drug applications to be approved by the FDA would come directly from the pharmaceutical industry. If a pharmaceutical company wanted a drug reviewed, they paid the FDA to perform the review. This certainly seems like a conflict of interest.
According to Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, this connection is very clear: “The pharmaceutical industry’s influence [over the FDA] gets exerted in a number of ways. One, starting 10 years ago [with the Prescription Drug User Fee Act (PDUFA)], the influence was exerted by their directly funding, paying cash right up front, for FDA review. So in many ways, the FDA started looking upon the industry as its client, instead of the public and the public health, which should be the client. [Another] way in which the industry’s influence has been allowed to grow considerably is the absence of congressional oversight. Up until 12 years ago, whenever the FDA would make a mistake — such as the series of mistakes they’ve made in the late 1990s — there would be a congressional hearing. They would have to explain to the legislative branch of the government what went wrong. They would be — properly, and in the best public health sense — on the defensive to try and explain what went wrong. No one is there in the Congress [now]. There have been essentially one or two days of oversight hearings in 12 years, as opposed to maybe the previous 12 years with dozens and dozens of oversights. So they’re getting away with no congressional oversight.”
Before 1992, from the FDA’s inception, this branch of the government was funded by taxpayers as an agency created to regulate the industry and advocate for public health.
It is believed that these hearings are a result of a few lawsuits launched in California several years ago, where plaintiffs complained about the effectiveness of certain homeopathic products. It had nothing to do with the safety of these products. One case involved a cold remedy that didn’t cure an individual’s symptoms. That is a bit like suing one of the famous over-the-counter pain reliever companies because I used their product but it didn’t get rid of my headache.
Homeopathy was discovered by German doctor Samuel Hahnemann in 1796. Homeopathy is based on the principle that “like treats like” and uses natural items in diluted form. For example, it is well known that onions can cause eyes to water as well as a runny nose. By creating Allium ceps, a remedy created from very small doses of red onion, this remedy can activate the body’s ability to stop watery eyes and a runny nose.
The critics of homeopathy believe that because the original item has been diluted to a minute quantity, it cannot possibly be effective. However, there are centuries’ worth of evidence that homeopathic remedies do work, and the correct remedy can work amazingly well. Another argument against homeopathy is that any benefit is simply a placebo effect. Interestingly, homeopathic medicines have been shown to have great success in animals, which certainly are not susceptible to a placebo effect. I would hazard a guess that most detractors have never tried homeopathy.
Homeopathic medicines have been used since the 1800s with much success. In fact, in the latter part of that century, there were approximately 110 homeopathic hospitals in the United States, about 145 homeopathic dispensaries and 26 homeopathic medical colleges.
The downfall of homeopathy came in the early part of the 1900s, when the American Medical Association became a powerful political force. New laws were passed allowing the AMA to regulate medical colleges. By 1931, even the Hahnemann Medical College of Philadelphia was teaching almost exclusively allopathic medicine, except for one or two homeopathic classes. By 1950, there were only 52 homeopathic colleges left in the United States.
Homeopathic medicine is widely used in Europe and very well respected. It is well known that the British royal family uses and believes strongly in homeopathy. In France, more than 90 percent of pharmacists recommend homeopathic medications for pregnant women. As popular as it is in Europe, it is even more popular in India with 100 million citizens relying solely on homeopathy as their only source of medicine.
The truth is homeopathic remedies are safe, inexpensive, easy to use and effective. They are also direct competition for pharmaceutical companies, both over-the-counter medications and prescription medications.
If you would like to protect your rights to use homeopathic medications, the FDA is taking comments until June 22 at tinyurl.com/fd8homeo.
Grosse Ile resident Theresa Edmunds is a certified health counselor who works with individuals to create health through natural living principles. Contact her at email@example.com. Information in this column should not be considered medical advice.
Article by :pharmaceuticals