Thursday, June 18, 2009


A Pretty Pickle

You may have heard (from A list blogs like Pharyngula and Respectful Insolence) about Zicam, a homeopathic “medicine” for colds that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued an advisory against using because it can cause a long-lasting or permanent loss of sense of smell (anosmia).

As Orac points out, “drugs that appear in the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia are given automatic FDA approval, no science, evidence, or messy clinical trials needed.” The reason is:

... true homeopathic remedies are diluted to far, far below 1 ppm. In fact, even a 12C homeopathic dilution represents approximately a 1024-fold dilution. Get up to 20C or 30C, and there is, to a very good approximation, zero chance of even a single molecule of the active remedy remaining.
In short, if you’re stupid enough to buy water at highly inflated prices as a “medicine,” the government will let you on the assumption that water won’t hurt you. The problem is that some marketers are including some real ingredients in their supposedly homeopathic remedies.

The obvious solution is that the FDA will now have to test homeopathic preparations and certify that they have no effect at all.

Put another way, government should spend scarce resources to assure consumers that they are being completely, and, therefore, safely, cheated.


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