Health Ministry deems homeopathic drug TV ads 'misleading'

Regulators nix ads from TV, call maker's claims "illegal."

January 31, 2011 04:56
2 minute read.
The Health Ministry in Jerusalem

Health Ministry 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

The Health Ministry’s pharmaceutical division will prevent further TV advertising of an unregistered homeopathic preparation, called Traumeel, that makes illegal therapeutic claims.

According to the law, only registered drugs can claim to provide medical benefits.

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Division head Batya Haran thanked The Jerusalem Post this week for informing her that Channel 2 has been running ads for months on behalf of Traumeel, which claims to successfully treat back pain.

“We will investigate and deal with it,” said Haran, who added that she would inform the networks that they may not allow advertising of alternative medications that claim to treat serious medical conditions.

After the ministry initially failed to take action against that preparation, a different one, RD 49, was advertised on TV and claimed to treat nasal congestion.

They were apparently the first ads for homeopathic preparations to appear on Israeli television.

Packages of homoeopathic preparations sold in pharmacies must by law carry a printed disclaimer stating “This is a homeopathic preparation without an approved medical indication; This product is approved by the Health Ministry only from the safety aspect.”

The disclaimer is required, Haran said, “because homeopathy’s medical efficacy has not been proven scientifically as are registered medications.”

The TV ads did not bear any disclaimers, yet the product’s presenters claimed they treated medical conditions effectively.

Homeopathy uses extremely diluted preparations that practitioners employ to treat patients. However, the majority of scientific evidence has found homeopathy to be no more effective than placebos, which psychologically can make patients feel better, but have no inherent medical value.

The 18th-century German doctor Samuel Hahnemann based his theory of homeopathy on “the law of similars,” to “let like be cured by like.”

Homeopathic preparations are claimed to have an “imprint” of substances previously dissolved in them, but they cannot be detected due to successive dilutions.

Last year, members of the British Parliament demanded that the National Health Service stop funding homeopathy, arguing that it is only “a placebo treatment and involves deceiving the patient every time it is prescribed,” the British Medical Journal reported.

The MPs issued a report recommending that the British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency no longer license homeopathic products, and called for the prohibition of labels making medical claims without proof of efficacy, the BMJ said.

The UK’s National Health Service spends an estimated $6.2 million annually on providing homeopathic preparations to patients.

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