At a Christchurch Skeptics in the Pub meeting, one attendee asked if the NZ Skeptics was going to be doing anything with regard to the UK-based 10:23 campaign, which was planning a mass homeopathic overdose to protest against the Boots pharmacy chain stocking homeopathic products. After all, we had asked a number of times over the years for the professional pharmacy bodies to supply a conference speaker to talk about the ethics of selling products of doubtful efficacy.
There were four days before the planned overdose, so things swung quickly into action….and it all snowballed from there, and now it has become an annual event.
This page covers the campaign, with the most recent actions or media coverage at the top. If you want to read it chronologically, start from the bottom and work your way up.
Homeopathy – there’s nothing in it
Following on from last year’s efforts, people areound the world have joined in the 10:23 campaign to raise awareness about the true nature of homeopathy. The 2011 campaign has seen organisers working in the UK, US, Australia and half a dozen other countries letting people know that there is nothing in homeopathy outisde the placebo effect. Here is the announcement of our participation:
Homeopathic products should have labels quoting the NZ Homeopathic Council’s admission that there is “not one molecule of the original substance remaining” in the diluted remedies that form the basis of this multi-million-dollar industry.
The call for accurate labelling comes from the NZ Skeptics, who are joining in a worldwide campaign in February to highlight misleading advertising in the alternative health industry, concentrating on the claims of homeopathy. The 10:23 Challenge kicks off the weekend of February 5th with activities in around a dozen countries.
“We’re concerned that 94% of New Zealanders using homeopathic products aren’t aware that, in the words of the Homeopathic Council, “there is nothing material in the homeopathic remedy”. People are buying this stuff not realising there’s nothing in it,” says Skeptics spokesperson Vicki Hyde.
The admission from the Council came last year after the NZ Skeptics held public “overdoses” to highlight the massive dilutions which homeopaths believe make their products more powerful. The Skeptics have called on pharmacies to be ethical enough to tell customers they are purchasing bulking agents and water instead of genuine health products. They have also put in a submission to the Natural Health Products Bill, calling for honest labelling, stronger scrutiny of marketing claims and better consumer protection in the alternative health industry.
“When you read the product information sheets, packaging and websites, there’s usually no mention of the product being so diluted there are no original substances remaining,” says Hyde. “People see the label Arnica and believe they are buying a herbal medicine.”
Homeopathic products disguise the lack of original substance by using an arcane measurement system peculiar to the 200-old belief system. A product such as a homeopathic jet lag tablet may list 30C of Arnica Montana. The 30C means the initial Arnica present has been diluted to 0.000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 1%), long past the point where even one molecule of Arnica is present.
“Customers see the 30C and think they are buying a real ingredient. That’s very misleading and, in some cases it can be fatal.”
Reports of products such as homeopathic meningitis “vaccines” and homeopathic malaria and typhoid tablets have alarmed health officials in New Zealand and around the world. Public information website WhatsTheHarm.net cites 500 reported cases of people who had suffered or died as a result of relying on homeopathic products.
“We’ve fought hard to have real health products made accountable in terms of their claims and patient safety. Alternative health products should be held just as accountable.”
The New Zealand Skeptics and other concerned groups are planning various activities over the 10:23 Challenge week, including Skeptics in the Pub meetings, homeopathic beer production (“even more waterd down than usual!”), distribution of flyers explaining the real background to homeopathy, discussion of consumer protection and the rights to informed consent relating to health products, and the basic chemistry and physics which demonstrate why there’s nothing in homeopathy.
Homeopathic Concerns Continue
The concerns raised by pharmacy support for flogging off homeopathic products continue to mount, both in New Zealand and internationally.
Animal welfare issues have been raised as a result of the tacit approval by Fonterra and rural business support organisations for the use of homeopathic remedies on farm animals. Treating serious complaints with water could well leave farmers open to charges of animal neglect, if they choose to do so in lieu of real treatments, allowing their animals to suffer unnecessarily. New Zealand has already seen the image of the farmer go downhill over welfare issues in the past year, from the concerns of the Crafar cattle farms, to pig rearing practices and the rise of cubicle farming.
Overseas, the UK has seen some serious inroads into support for homeopathic practice. There have been calls by the British Medical Association to ban homeopathic products from the National Health Service and have them taken off pharmacy shelves designated for medicines. Why should the NHS spend 4 million pounds annually on a placebo? This followed on from an earlier report by the UK’s Science and Technology Committee which concluded that homeopathic products should not be allowed to make medical claims without evidence of efficacy, that it was implausible and no better than placebo.
Even when the British Homeopathic Association tried citing evidence that their products have some basis in fact, their claims were refuted by the very scientists they attempted to cite. See more on that here.
And the UK’s Homeopathy Awareness Week in June fizzled amongst bad publicity referring to homeopathy as implausible, homeopaths as misleading the public and one major support (the Prince of Wales’s Foundation for Integrated Health no less!) folding in the midst of a police investigation for fraud and money laundering.
In Canada, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities Position Statement has iterated that Canadian pharmacists are obliged to hold the health and safety of the public or patient as their first and foremost consideration. When selling drugs, natural health products and homeopathic products, NAPRA has reminded it members that pharmacists should ensure the products they sell have been properly and formally checked for safety, efficacy and quality.
It would be great to see similar concern shown by New Zealand pharmacies, but we’ve had difficulty finding even one that has the integrity to refuse to stock these products. That’s despite comments in Pharmacy Today and our releases getting widespread coverage. If you know of a pharmacy that has taken a stand, let us know about them!
On a less serious note, the ridiculous nature of homeopathy has been highlighted by a light-hearted article on Newsbiscuit:
Weapons of Mass Dilution
Weapons-grade homeopathic bombs are comprised of 99.9% water but contain the merest trace element of explosive, making them incredibly powerful. New security measures at airports require that all water bottles be scanned to ensure that they are not being used to smuggle the memory of an explosion on board a plane…
Read the full article here.
You would think that a health industry which claims all manner of special powers would be keen to get their views across, but it seems the NZ Council of Homeopaths has gone to ground. Not only have they not responded to our invitation to discourage pharmacies in stocking mass-produced, mass-distributed homeopathic products (which goes against their beliefs in the individual nature of such items), but they wouldn’t even join in a discussion about the issues.
Good magazine, which focuses on sustainable living, invited both organisations to provide a guest editorial but the NZ Skeptics were the only ones to front. (We’re often accused of being close minded, but we’re not the ones which refuse to show, decline to comment, take only one possible answer as the only right one…).
You can see our guest editorial here. While it may be familiar to readers of this website, we hope that it might have raised some thoughts in the Good readership.
NZ Skeptics Invite Homeopaths to Join Campaign
Press Release Number 3, February 12 2010
Following on from the Closeup TV interview, we decided to put up a challenge of our own to the NZ Council of Homeopaths to join the campaign. Here’s why:
The New Zealand Skeptics are inviting homeopaths to join their call for pharmacies to stop selling homeopathic products, as both groups are opposed to the practice, albeit for different reasons.
The New Zealand Council of Homeopaths and others in the trade have stated that their customers require lengthy personalised sessions to “match the energy of the potency of the remedy with the person”. According to homeopath Mary Glaisyer, this involves matching symptoms with the huge range of materials on which homeopaths base their ultra-diluted preparations. For example, causticum, more mundanely known as potassium hydroxide, is said to manifest its homeopathic action in “paralytic affections” and “seems to choose preferable [sic] dark-complexioned and rigid-fibered persons”.
Pharmacists who sell homeopathic products in the same way they sell deodorants and perfumed soaps are clearly not meeting basic homeopathic practice. When a number of pharmacies in Christchurch were checked by purchasers of these products, no pharmacy staff asked about symptoms; one simply asked “do you want vitamins with that?”.
The New Zealand Skeptics have been calling for pharmacies to stop selling homeopathic products as they contend there are consumer rights issues involving informed consent and misleading labelling.
“Homeopathy involves diluting a material until there isn’t anything left of it at all – the NZ Council of Homeopaths have admitted that. But we know 94% of homeopathic customers aren’t aware of this. They think their expensive bottle of drops actually contains the ingredients listed on the label- not water which once upon a time had some of that in it,” says Skeptics Chair Vicki Hyde. “Stocking it next to genuine medical products gives homeopathic products credibility which they don’t deserve.”
Many people equate homeopathic products with herbal products, hence the belief that the products contain real substance. In addition, the products are commonly used for conditions which get better with time regardless of treatment, as well as exploiting the well-known placebo effect.
- Canada bans pharmacy sales of non-licensed homeopathics
- Critique of Luc Montagnier Foundation study homeopaths say support their ideas
- UK Homeopathic Association misrepresented evidence to MPs (Guardian)
- Skeptics Guide to Homeopathy flyer (185kb)
- 10:23 — Homeopathy, there’s nothing in it (UK campaign)
- What’s the harm.net on Homeopathy
- Skeptical Dictionary: homeopathy
- Through the Fog, Access Radio: The Pseudoscience Behind Homeopathy Part One; Part Two
Hyde was disturbed to hear one pharmacist say that he didn’t care if the industry was exploiting the placebo effect to claim results, he stocked the products because people would buy them.
“We don’t think it’s a good idea for health practitioners to mislead people. They should tell them that they are selling water for $10 a teaspoon. And we think the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths should take an ethical stand by calling on their product manufacturers to stop supplying pharmacies.”
Community pharmacists in Canada have recently been banned by their professional regulators from selling non-licensed herbal medicines and homeopathic remedies on the grounds of public safety. The National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities has stated that “pharmacists are obliged to hold the health and safety of the public or patient as their first and foremost consideration” and cites the need to ensure safety, efficacy and quality in products offered by pharmacists.
The call for the NZ Skeptics and homeopaths to join forces is not the first time such action has been considered. In 2002, when an Auckland pharmacy starting selling products labelled homeopathic “meningococcal vaccine” and homeopathic “hepatitis B vaccine”, Hyde and then-president of the NZ Homeopathic Society, the late Bruce Barwell, discussed a joint release condemning this highly dangerous move. Hyde was concerned that relying on water as a vaccine would lead to unnecessary deaths – she already had notes from a Coroner’s Court where a baby being treated with homeopathic ear drops died of meningitis.
“It’s bad enough when the product labelling misleads people into thinking they are buying something more than water – it’s far worse when they misuse a word like vaccine in such a life-threatening area.”
The homeopaths were concerned then, as now, that their 200-year-old practices were being misrepresented by non-homeopaths keen to benefit from the multi-million-dollar industry.
“If the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths joins the New Zealand Skeptics in encouraging pharmacists to be ethical enough to stop stocking these products, then we both will have done something towards improving the health of New Zealanders.”
Hyde has already had people contact her asking for a list of ethical pharmacists that they can support with their business. She says the NZ Skeptics are happy to hear from any pharmacy willing to take a stand on this issue, and will start to create a database for concerned members of the public.
Closeup, our main national current affairs programme on the TVNZ national broadcast channel, wanted to cover the story. They spent two hours filming us swallowing pills, spritzing sprays, demonstrating how a homeopathic dilution is made, talking about the health and safety issues of relying on water as a medicine and a whole host of other issues, in the cosy confines of The Snug at the Twisted Hop, the bar of choice for the Christchurch Skeptics in the Pub gatherings.
That sterling effort was then diluted to a very short intro followed by a short interview sequence involving Vicki Hyde, Skeptics Chair, and Mary Glaisyer from the NZ Council of Homeopaths.
Watch the Closeup video here.
More Reactions: Electromagnetic Mumbo-Jumbo; Ethical Pharmacy List Proposed
January- early February
NZ Council of Homeopaths rep Mary Glaiyser made an appeal to authority by citing research by Professor Luc Montagnier (a French virologist who co-discovered HIV and who won the Nobel Prize in 2008) that she said supported the idea that “actually the homeopathic remedy has an active ingredient”. the reseach, in fact, shows no such thing and, if anything, goes against a number of the basic tenets of homeopathy. You can read a critique of the study here.
We predict that the attempt to recast “water memory” with a more scientifically sounding gobble-de-gook as a “resonance phenomenon triggered by the ambient electromagnetic background of very low frequency waves”, will soon see the term “quantum tunnelling” thrown about in an equally ill-informed fashion….
We had both paid members and members of the public asking if we can identify those ethical pharmacies which don’t stock homeopathics so they can switch business to them.
Ethical pharmacists are welcome to let us know of their status by using the Skeptics contact form.
We’ll then check them out and put up their details on the website. Another possible approach is to use our membership to conduct surveys in their local areas and report back.
From the UK 10:23 campaign:
Thanks very much for the note, the support and the energy. We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm from the NZ side of things. It’s been great.
Homeopaths Admit Expensive Concoctions Just Water
Press Release Number 2, Jan 30 2010
A public mass overdose of homeopathic remedies has forced the New Zealand Council of Homeopaths to admit openly that their products do not contain any “material substances”. Council spokeswoman Mary Glaisyer admitted publicly that “there’s not one molecule of the original substance remaining” in the diluted remedies that form the basis of this multi-million-dollar industry.
The NZ Skeptics, in conjunction with 10:23, Skeptics in the Pub and other groups nationally and around the world, held the mass overdose in Christchurch on Saturday to highlight the fact that homeopathic products are simply very expensive water drops or sugar/lactose pills. A further aim was to question the ethical issues of pharmacies, in particular, stocking and promoting sham products and services.
“You’re paying $10 for a teaspoon of water that even the homeopaths say has no material substance in it,” says Skeptics Chair Vicki Hyde. “Yet a recent survey showed that 94% of New Zealanders using homeopathic products aren’t aware of this basic fact – their homeopath or health professional hasn’t disclosed this. The customers believe they are paying for the substances listed on the box, but those were only in the water once upon a time before the massive dilution process began – along with everything else that the water once had in it — the chlorine, the beer, the urine….”
Hyde notes that one of the homeopathic products downed by the 40 or so people in the mass overdose had a label saying it contained chamomilia, humulus lupulus, ignatia, kali brom, nux vomica and zinc val. But those substances were actually in homeopathic dilutions, meaning that the kali brom, for example, was present in a proportion comparable to 1 pinch of sugar in the Atlantic Ocean – that is, not actually present at all.
“People don’t know that they are paying through the nose for just water – they believe the label implies there are active ingredients in there, just like you’d expect from a reputable health product. And you have to ask, at what point does it shift from being an issue of informed consent to become an issue of fraud?”
The UK-based 10:23 campaign is concerned about the ethical issue of pharmacies – touted as “the health professional you see most often” – supporting these products and giving them a spurious and unwarranted credibility.
“Does this mean pharmacists don’t know that homeopathic products are just water, or they do know and don’t care because people will buy it not realising the massive mark-up? Either way, that should be a big concern for the health consumer. Here’s a huge industry with virtually no regulatory oversight or consumer protection or come-back, and even its keen customers aren’t aware of the highly dubious practices involved.”
The alternative health industry has built a multi-million-dollar business exploiting the natural healing powers of the human body, as many conditions will get better within two to three days regardless of whether conventional or alternative treatments are used, or even if nothing is done at all. Independent testing has shown that homeopathic preparations take full advantage of this and homeopaths quickly take the credit for any improvement in their clients.
The Christchurch “overdose” included an “underdose” – homeopaths believe that the more dilute things are, the more potent they become, so the skeptics were careful to try that approach. There are also claims by product manufacturers that, in fact, dosage doesn’t matter at all – whether you take 1 pill or 100 – but the important thing is the frequency of dosage, and the skeptics covered that base too. No ill effects were reported, apart from a distinct drop in the level of cash in various wallets. For the demonstration, Hyde reluctantly purchased two small boxes of tablets and a 25ml spray from a Unichem pharmacy, costing $51.95.
“That’s a lot to pay for less than 2 tablespoons of water and not much more than that in lactose milk sugar.”
Homeopaths claim all sorts of amazing results, from treating the 1918 influenza to AIDS. More dangerously, at least one New Zealand pharmacy has been known to push homeopathic water labelled as “vaccines” for meningitis and Hepatitis B. Perhaps not surprisingly, the most supportive test results are those which come out of the homeopathic industry, product manufacturers and other vested interests. Any completely independent evaluation, such as the highly respected Cochrane Collaboration, tends to find the results much more underwhelming, citing no convincing evidence in many claimed areas of effectiveness.
“We’d recommend that if your local pharmacy stocks homeopathic products, take your business somewhere more ethical.”
Mass Overdose Reaction
TV filming, Press coverage Jan 30, 2010
Our overdose efforts saw around 40 people pop pills and spritz spray to no beneficial or deleterious effect, but more importantly the pre-publicity from the Christchurch Press saw the New Zealand Council for Homeopaths admit publicly that their products had no material substance in them (our emphasis).
This point was picked up by a columnist in the Guardian, who referred to the NZ homeopaths as finding “amusing and creative ways to dig themselves deeper into a hole”.
We got a flurry of interest in the first press release from TV, radio and print media, as well as great support from members, Skeptics in the Pub folk and others concerned about this issue.
On TVNZ the Pharmacy Guild was quoted saying of homeopathic products:
“there’s a place for them so long as customers are told they only might help”.
We believe that that is unethical, and certainly that comment was not made at any of the pharmacists we visited to purchase these products.
We received the following comment from a member who watched the item:
Wow just saw the TVNZ coverage. How was the response from the NZ Pharmacy Guild, “It’s ok to sell as long as the customer is told that they only might help”. Stunning, they really don’t care about what they sell with a statement like that.
A letter sent to the Christchurch Press, noted this:
My, my, so now it is publicly acknowledged that homoeopathic remedies don’t have any “material substances” in them!(Press 30 Jan.) As a chemist, I could have told you that based on the dilutions used. So water is now supposed to have a “memory” of what it came in contact with? Electromagnetic fields in the water were mentioned on TV – the same fields feared by those opposed to cell towers and power lines. So homoeopathy is, by admission, seriously dangerous to use!
If water has a memory of what it has been in contact with, your best cure for anything homoeopaths claim to be able to treat is a glass of good, old Christchurch tap water – it has been circulating around, over, and in the earth for millions of year and must have been in contact, at some time, with any substance you could name. Tastes good, and is much cheaper than any homoeopathic remedy. I just can’t understand why chemists, who should know better (or if they don’t should be barred from practising) continue to sell homoeopathic remedies – just greed?
Mass Overdose Planned
Press Release Number 1, Jan 27, 2010
On January 30, a concerted global mass overdose will take place, but no-one will die because the “medication” of choice will be homeopathic. Homeopathic medicine consists of water or water dripped onto sugar tablets; the UK-based 1023 campaign aims to highlight that fact and protest against pharmacies touting such a product as medicinal.
To mark the occasion, the NZ Skeptics have released a new Skeptics Guide to Homeopathy, available as a flyer off their website (http://skeptics.org.nz). It outlines the development of homeopathy from a relatively harmless attempt to help people some 200 years ago through to the multi-million industry of today. Throughout that time, homeopathic practice has held to the idea that diluting substances many, many, many times makes for a more potent treatment, reinforcing that with the idea that water somehow “remembers” the health-giving extracts it once had in it.
“We do have members looking to take part in the overdose, but many have said that they can’t in all good conscience bring themselves to buy the stuff in the first place,” says NZ Skeptics Chair-entity Vicki Hyde.
When Billy Joel’s daughter attempted to commit suicide last month, she chose to take an overdose of homeopathic medication, and thus suffered no ill effects. Hyde points out that while that case was fortunate, there are many cases where people have been harmed by the use of homeopathic products in the place of real medicine.
“We’ve got a Coronor’s Court record of the death of a baby from meningitis; it had been treated with homeopathic ear drops and the mother was very reluctant for any hospital admission. And the website whatstheharm.net lists many cases from around the world where people have died or had horrible outcomes as a result of a mistaken reliance on homeopathy.”
Hyde has seen concerns raised about the increasing numbers of New Zealand pharmacies — “the health professionals you see most often” — selling homeopathic preparations and even homeopathic first aid kits, alongside other alternative health offerings.
“I try to ignore the herbs of dubious quality, the effusive claims for magnetic bracelets, the offers to feel my feet to see what ails me – all those things which seem a core part of pharmacy stock and trade. I do wonder about the business and medical ethics though. After all, what’s worse – a pharmacist who apparently can’t distinguish between tested, regulated medicines and the hope-and- hokum variety; or the pharmacist who does know the claims are not founded and doesn’t care because such stuff sells?”
Such dubious practices became a particular concern when an Auckland pharmacy began selling homeopathic “meningococcal vaccine” and “hepatitis B vaccine”. Even some in the homeopathic trade protested against that misleading labelling.
Over the past 30 years, a large number of studies have compared homeopathic treatments with placebos (materials known to have no effect on the condition being treated). These have shown consistently that there are no benefits to homeopathy beyond the psychological value of the placebo effect where people feel better because they think they are getting treatment. Additionally, many of the conditions allegedly treated by homeopathy are ones which spontaneously improve.
Hyde is concerned that homeopaths rarely explain their odd beliefs to their clientele. Most people, she contends, would think twice about a product that claimed greater strength through dilution to the point where no active substance was present any more.
“After all, you’d be dubious if someone said they’d make you a stiff gin and tonic and then proceeded to add a Pacific Ocean of tonic to a drop of gin – that’s the sort of dilution homeopaths use. Selling these preparations allows for a huge mark-up, and any responses are credited to the preparation, rather than the placebo effect. It’s a win-win for the industry, particularly with very little regulatory oversight or consumer come-back.”
Hyde notes that society has fought long and hard for a patient’s right to informed consent, for ethical standards for health practitioners and for evidence-based medicine that does not rely on deception or luck to work effectively.
“We should demand those standards be met by the alternative health industry and then they could truly claim to be producing medicines.”
This article by Vicki Hyde was originally presented on National Radio’s Sunday Supplement programme, and printed in the NZ Skeptics Summer 2003
Be wary of “the health professional you see most often”. In some cases be afraid, be very afraid.
Why? Well in some cases, the advice you get from your friendly pharmacist could be deadly.
I try to ignore the herbs of dubious quality, the effusive claims for magnetic bracelets, the offers to feel my feet to see what ails me – all those things which seem a core part of pharmacy stock and trade. I do wonder about the business and medical ethics. After all, what’s worse – a pharmacist who apparently can’t distinguish between tested, regulated medicines and the hope and hokum variety; or the pharmacist who does know and doesn’t care because such stuff sells?
But the whole sorry state of that industry took a chilling turn recently with the report of an Auckland pharmacy selling a homeopathic meningococcal vaccine.
Many homeopaths would argue that the 300-year-old practice of diluting substances into infinitesimal amounts is akin to taking a vaccine. “Like cures like” as they say. What they don’t say is that the massive dilutions they use would require you to drink almost 8,000 gallons of homeopathic solution to get just one molecule of any medicinal substance involved.
You can pay a hefty price for this diluted water, but you can pay a much bigger price if you use it in place of stuff that actually works.
The Council of the Faculty of Homeopathy, the registered organisation for UK doctors qualified in homeopathy, recommends immunisation with conventional vaccines. As GPs, they know you ignore real vaccination at your peril. It’s a pertinent warning here when we’re considering a large-scale vaccination programme against meningitis.
Small wonder that the head of our Health Ministry’s meningococcal vaccine strategy was concerned about the sale of homeopathic vaccines, warning in a Herald article that it could give people a false sense of security.
However, I think the real false sense of security comes from the hopeful notion that we have some legislative protection from purveyors of such patently misleading products. There’s no protection under the Medicines Act it seems, for the Health Ministry’s compliance team leader Peter Pratt noted in the same Herald item that such preparations are permissible so long as they were “sufficiently diluted”.
Yet it’s the dilution that make this approach to vaccination so dubious in the first place, and not just to the skeptical. Alternative practitioner and homeopath Dr Dominik Marsiello states unequivocally that “there is no such thing as a homeopathic vaccine”. He goes on to acknowledge that “homeopathic remedies are too dilute to stimulate an immune response and confer immunity. There is no basis, historically or scientifically, for such a practice.”
Yet we have bottles of water labelled “meningococcal vaccine” and “hepatitis B vaccine” in our pharmacies, sold by health professionals, as a protection against these terrible diseases. Some apologists have said that “vaccine” in this case actually means “immune booster”. But “vaccine” has a specific meaning – it’s something which confers immunity through the production of antibodies. This is an easily testable claim, but apparently not one our Ministry of Health considers worth bothering about.
I shouldn’t be too surprised. After all, last time concerns were raised about a comparable product, our Commerce Commission – the organisation charged with protecting us from fraudulent claims – passed the buck to the Ministry of Health, saying it was a health issue. The health ministry, in turn, washed its hands of the business saying that “water is not a medicine”, thus it had nothing to do with them.
Contrast this with the activities of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, their state Health Care Complaints Commissions, their Fair Trading Ministers, and the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration. They are taking an increasing interest in those areas where bogus medicines, fraudulent claims and consumer rights intersect. The TGA took a very dim view of having a fake vaccine on the Australian market, banning it and warning consumers. And the New South Wales Fair Trading Minister referred to the earlier incident where people were paying a 400,000 percent mark-up on a small bottle of water as “a New Age spin on an old-fashioned rip-off”.
Strong words, but ones which need to be said, and said loudly. I know of one New Zealand baby dead of meningitis because homeopathic treatment was chosen over real medicine. I don’t want to see any more. I just wish our Health Ministry felt the same.