CVS, the largest drug retailer in the United States, is being sued for consumer fraud over its sale of homeopathic “remedies” that have been shown to be ineffective.
The lawsuit was brought by the Center for Inquiry, a group that fights for reason and science, and it accuses the drugstore giant of “wasting consumers’ money and putting their health at risk.” CFI states that 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.”
The lawsuit includes detailed scientific evidence against homeopathy, and asks the court to find that CVS violated the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act. CFI also asks for restitution and damages of $1,500 per violation, which could be a significant amount.
I’m happy to see this. Too often major companies in the U.S. get away with spreading pseudoscience, even when it relates to health issues and has the potential to cause grave harm. Most recently, I wrote about another drugstore that is doing something very similar.In April, I wrote about Rite Aid, which also offers homeopathic treatments right alongside real medicines and causes harm by confusing sick people. Specifically, I noted their sale of a nonsense Himalayan salt “Inhealer” that supposedly helps people “breathe easier without chemical inhalers.”
RiteAid actually defended its sale of the fake inhaler, which could keep people from using a real one that has been proven to save lives during asthma episodes, issuing the following statement to me:
“It’s important to note that the packaging of the product available in our stores (see photos attached) does not have any reference to respiratory ailments and also includes language that states: This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult a qualified health care provider before using the Inhealer. Further, in the instructions included with the Inhealer, it is noted that product should not be used in the event of respiratory distress or as a replacement of medication.”
The information RiteAid points to contradicts other statements made on the box and the product’s website, but they don’t seem to care.
My guess is that CVS will respond similarly to this lawsuit, but ultimately the court will decide if they are endangering lives or not. My hope is that they will be held accountable, and that we can help usher in a new age of scientific accuracy in medicine.