Nick Little, the chief counsel for the Center for Inquiry, has been talking about this big lawsuit he was working on (other than the secular celebrant suit that I’m a plaintiff in) but I didn’t know what it was. Now I do. CFI is suing the giant pharmacy store chain CVS for fraud for advertising and selling useless homeopathic “remedies” alongside actual science-tested medications and treatments.
They are suing the company as a “private attorney general” in the District of Columbia, seeking a fraud judgment that would be in the public interest rather than representing a specific client. In a press release, the group said:
Homeopathy is an 18th-century pseudoscience premised on the absurd, unscientific notion that a substance that causes a particular symptom is what should be ingested to alleviate it. Dangerous substances are diluted to the point that no trace of the active ingredient remains, but its alleged effectiveness rests on the nonsensical claim that water molecules have “memories” of the original substance. Homeopathic treatments have no effect whatsoever beyond that of a placebo.
“Homeopathy is a total sham, and CVS knows it. Yet the company persists in deceiving its customers about the effectiveness of homeopathic products,” said Nicholas Little, CFI’s Vice President and General Counsel. “Homeopathics are shelved right alongside scientifically-proven medicines, under the same signs for cold and flu, pain relief, sleep aids, and so on.”
“If you search for ‘flu treatment’ on their website, it even suggests homeopathics to you,” said Little. “CVS is making no distinction between those products that have been vetted and tested by science, and those that are nothing but snake oil.”Apart from being a waste of money, choosing homeopathic treatments to the exclusion of evidence-based medicines can result in worsened or prolonged symptoms, and in some cases, even death. Several products have been found to contain poisonous ingredients which have affected tens of thousands of adults and children in just the last few years.
It’s about time this happened. Homeopathy is a straight-up fraud that should be strictly regulated by the FDA, but it’s not. “Supplements” escape scientific scrutiny and people gobble them up by the billions when most of them do nothing at all. If you can’t show the valid scientific studies that support the efficacy of any product that advertises a health benefit, you should not be allowed to tell people it’s a medical treatment, plain and simple. To do so is not only fraud, it’s dangerous and deadly. And it’s about time the federal government take this more seriously.
This is an alternative way of getting that same result, by suing the companies selling the fraudulent products and forcing them to stop. If they can’t sell it, the profit dries up and it will go away. Bravo to CFI for doing this. You can read the full complaint here.