Homeopathy Maker Pulls Product for Containing Medicine

Okay, this story made me literally laugh out loud. Terra Medica, a company that makes homeopathic “remedies” (what they actually remedy is unclear), has recalled a bunch of its products because — gasp! — they might contain actual medicine. Clearly, that cannot be allowed.

There are a lot of things hinging on this idea that homeopathic remedies don’t contain any active ingredients in them. One: When manufactured cleanly and correctly, homeopathic remedies should be generally harmless. After all, in the end, they should just be solutions of water and/or alcohol, perhaps mixed into a sugar pill. Two: In part because homeopathic products have been generally recognized as safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has mostly chosen not to regulate them. Unless they claim to cure serious conditions, such as cancer, the FDA doesn’t ask homeopathy companies to prove their products are safe or effective.

In this case, however, the FDA found that the process Terra Medica used to make six of its products could introduce the antibiotic penicillin into Terra Medica liquids, tablets, capsules, ointments and suppositories. People who are allergic to penicillin might get severe reactions if they use these products. Terra Medica is conducting a voluntary recall affecting 56 lots of its products, according to an FDA statement.

That’s too bad. They might actually have worked.

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About Ed Brayton

After spending several years touring the country as a stand up comedian, Ed Brayton tired of explaining his jokes to small groups of dazed illiterates and turned to writing as the most common outlet for the voices in his head. He has appeared on the Rachel Maddow Show and the Thom Hartmann Show, and is almost certain that he is the only person ever to make fun of Chuck Norris on C-SPAN.

  • coryat

    I imagine the problem was that this batch would be weaker than Terra Medica’s usual standard, as this lot would actually contain more active ingredients.

  • Ellie

    I agree that it is amusing. However, they also could have killed someone — by direct effect, rather than just not doing anything at all for a disease.

  • cswella

    In other news, publishers of the King James Bible recalled thousands of copies that contained a pamphlet for Planned Parenthood. Spokesperson reported as saying, “We take pride in the bible containing no actual useful information, and this recent tragedy takes away from the vapidness of it’s claims.”

  • eric

    You say “clearly, that cannot be allowed” in somewhat jest but it is very seriously and ethically true.

    No product should be allowed to be sold that has more active ingredients than what’s stated on the label, either in terms of type of ingredient or amount. Doing that is extremely dangerous. Zicam caused over 300 people to permanently lose their sense of smell because they put significant quantities of zinc in their ‘homeopathic’ nasal sprays, but didn’t tell anyone. In the Terra Medica case, we are probably just lucky that nobody allergic to penicillin took it and died before the recall happened.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    Terra Medica, a company that makes homeopathic “remedies” (what they actually remedy is unclear)…

    What they remedy is hypermonetaria – dangerously high levels of money.

  • doublereed

    I think the solution is just to also sell penicillin tablets that will contain really mostly water and sugar. That’ll cure all those people with serious allergic reactions.

  • Sastra

    @cswella #3:

    That was hilarious. Meaning it made me laugh.

  • lldayo

    After all, in the end, they should just be solutions of water and/or alcohol, perhaps mixed into a sugar pill

    Wow. If people are really making money by selling pills mixed with water/alcohol and sugar claiming to be medicine I need to reconsider my career.

  • jameshanley

    in the end, they should just be solutions of water and/or alcohol, perhaps mixed into a sugar pill.

    Forget the sugar pill, I just learned that I’ve been drinking a homeopathic remedy every night!

  • Moggie

    On at least two occasions, skeptic groups have staged public “suicides” by “overdosing” on homeopathic remedies, with predictable lack of effects. It sounds like they got lucky…

  • eric

    @8 – they really are. And the markup is quite phenomenal. $5-6 per ounce of water – homeopaths make the folks at Evian and other bottled water purveyors look like a bunch of naive chumps.

  • John Pieret

    Moggie @ 10:

    On at least two occasions, skeptic groups have staged public “suicides” by “overdosing” on homeopathic remedies, with predictable lack of effects. It sounds like they got lucky…

    Actually, if you drink too much water you can die from “water intoxication” (through disturbance of brain frunction by throwing off the normal balance of electrolytes in the body). It has happened in water drinking contests in which individuals attempt to consume large amounts of water.

    So those skeptics had better be carful how much they overdose on homeopathic remedies.

  • freehand

    John Pieret: So those skeptics had better be carful how much they overdose on homeopathic remedies.


    At $5 per ounce, an overdose is unlikely.

  • freehand

    Come to think of it, shouldn’t an overdose require the suicide to consume far less than the recommended dose?

  • beardymcviking

    I’m actually more concerned with how these products got contaminated with penicillin.. It strikes me as poor hygiene and quality control more than anything else. Moldy equipment?

    I’ll be even more careful to avoid from now on.

  • leonardschneider

    Fish poop.

    If I’m remembering the homeopathic hypothesis (I refuse to call it a “theory”) correctly, the idea is that water has the ability to hold a “memory” of whatever the quacks and yahoos mix in with it. But if that’s true, the primary “memory” water will retain will be that of the fecal waste of fish.

    Therefore, logic impinges that the curative powers in homeopathic remedies is not in the too-small-to-measure amounts of drugs/tinctures/snake oil the quacks add to the water, but what is already there: fish poop.

    Folks, we’re missing out on a gold mine here. The drippy-hippie health food stores all sell homeopathic remedies. The flip side is places like GNC, which always push “Super-Concentrated [Whatever] Formula! Big Results Fast!” So, as the homeopaths have, however indirectly, “proved” how healthy minuscule amounts of fish shit is, all we need to do is start concentrating fish shit. We’ll figure out what benefits it provides later, right now collecting, cleaning, and concentrating fish shit is the important thing. I’ve got trout and bass poop covered, someone up north can cover the salmon market, maybe someone in the Florida Keys can get the high-grade marlin crap.

    All the “Health & Nutrition” stores like GNC — the places frequented by dudes with no necks, malfunctioning penises (steroids have some hilarious side effects), and who will speak of “hitting the wall on my free-weight bench reps” at the slightest provocation — are sure customers. Like I said, all we need to do is decide what benefits there are to consuming concentrated fish poop. I suppose we could just go look and see what the homeopaths claim their water does, and make the same claims. We’ll just divide it up by type of fish:

    – Trout: eases rheumatoid arthritis and carpal tunnel syndrome.

    – Marlin: cures sexual dysfunction in men. (And that’s why it’s the priciest.)

    – Breem: joint pain and spinal issues, primarily lumbar.

    – Bass: depression, ADHD, and some schizoid issues. (Warning: Attempting to collect one’s own bass poop by becoming a bass fisherman has been shown to increase the effects of depression.)

    – Flounder: treats sexual issues in women, specifically lack of desire and the inability to look at their husband/boyfriend’s penis without sneering and rolling their eyes. (Warning: For some reason, the purchase of a shower massager often follows after starting a flounder shit regimen, along with increasingly strident demands for coitus from their partners; use of the phrase “Shut your pie hole and get it hard” has been reported. The company is investigating these incidents by way of filming the interactions between couples. Once the music is edited in, fellow members of the scientific community can help analyze the issues by visiting YouPorn.com and searching for “horny housewives get wild.”)

    I’m telling you, there’s a mint to be made here. The homeopath quacks ran in one direction, I say there’s just as much money to be made by sprinting the opposite way. Concentrated fish poop: “You’ve Got The Illness, We’ve Got The Fish!”

  • cry4turtles

    The only way to achieve the best health you possibly can is through nutrition, buying supplements is like pissing in the wind. That being said, I think some supplements could be beneficial for some ailments (in the realm of scientifically proven supplements such as menthol creams for muscle aches), but if you want to glow, you better eat your fruits and veggies!

  • dingojack

    Following the fish shit idea* has anyone thought of selling ‘homeopathic fertiliser’?**

    This cool crystal clear water fresh from the river, once vaguely glimpsed a chicken going to the abattoir which had shat itself and it retained the memory of that traumatic ‘Dynamic Lifter™’*** inducing event at a quantum-level – making ideal to promote leaf and tip growth in your organic fruits and vegetables!”

    [Whistles I’m in the Money irritatingly]



    * Fish emulsion is used as a liquid fertiliser (v. stinky)

    ** I call ‘dibs!’

    *** I kid you not. ‘Dynamic Lifter™’ is, in fact, what USRRW has in abundance, chicken shit

  • TxSkeptic

    “(what they actually remedy is unclear)”

    Fat wallet syndrome.