The FTC has zero time for homeopathic hyperbole. Called the “Enforcement Policy Statement on Marketing Claims for Over-the-Counter (OTC) Homeopathic Drugs,” the FTC’s latest guidelines address the dos-and-don’ts of homeopathic marketing materials.
After analyzing concerns, the nation’s consumer watchdog averred:
[T]he FTC will hold efficacy and safety claims for OTC homeopathic drugs to the same standard as other products making similar claims. That is, companies must have competent and reliable scientific evidence for health-related claims, including claims that a product can treat specific conditions. The statement describes the type of scientific evidence that the Commission requires of companies making such claims for their products.
Homeopathy Marketing Guidelines: Long History, Little Science
Homeopathy sits at the crossroad of belief and science. A healing methodology dating back to the 18th century, the practice involves micro-doses of symptom-inducing ingredients. Over the past two decades, new age devotees have revived the methodology.
Yet, fringe popularity doesn’t guarantee efficacy; as far as the medical community is concerned, homeopathy falls under the anti-scientific umbrella.
The 18th-century factoid is pivotal in the FTC’s stance on homeopathic marketing. According to the guidelines, commissioners understand that “claims may include additional explanatory information to prevent the claims from being misleading.” In other words, so long as the packaging conveys that “[this claim is] based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts,” then it’s fine. (Sorry. Slapping a Dr. Quinn doppelganger on your label probably won’t cut legal muster.)
Don’t Skirt Homeopathic Marketing Guidelines with Tricky Language
The FTC’s announcement also condemns undercutting “a disclosure with additional positive statements or consumer endorsements reinforcing a product’s efficacy.”
“The bottom line, when it comes to FTC marketing compliance,” explained marketing and advertising lawyer Dan Warner, “is to avoid deception; and definitely don’t make unsubstantiated claims.” When asked about the new OTC homeopathic marketing guidelines, Warner explained, “To be fair, the FTC’s latest announcement isn’t necessarily a brand new stance, but a reminder that questionable science shouldn’t be used in promotional materials. Do so, and you risk a fine.”
Get Help From A Dietary Supplement Marketing Lawyer
If, after reading the FTC’s new homeopathic marketing guidelines, you still have questions, get in touch with Kelly / Warner Law. We regularly perform advertising audits to help clients avoid FTC fines.