Homeopathy & Consumer Protection

Here’s a piece I wrote for the Science Based Pharmacy Blog: Homeopathy and Consumer Protection

The opening paragraph:

What should we think about homeopathy, from the point of view of Business Ethics? We can begin by asking the same questions about homeopathy as we would ask about any other product. Those questions fall under two main headings:

Is it generally ethically OK to sell this product? Is it a product that should be on the market at all?
If it’s generally ok to sell this product, what are the obligations of companies selling them? Are there any ethical limits on how or to whom they are marketed?

The final paragraph:

In the end, what I’m really looking for here are reasonably generalizable standards of consumer protection across various categories of health products. What standard of evidence and safety should be applied to products offered for sale, quite generally? If homeopathic preparations are not expected to stand up to the rigours of Randomized Controlled Trials, why, in all fairness, should the products of the major pharmaceutical companies be forced to meet that standard? Surely Merck and GlaxoSmithKline would love to avoid having to jump through those hoops. Surely Big Pharma would love to be able to give vague answers to my questions above. But we don’t let them. And we’re right not to let them. The question is, can the Homeopathic industry demonstrate its commitment to ethics by giving clear answers, too?

About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.

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