Homeopathy on Trial

As Tim Minchin put it in his poem, “Storm,” an alternative medicine is either not shown to be effective or has been shown to be ineffective; because if an alternative medicine has been shown to be effective, then we call it “medicine.”

Standard Homeopathic Company makes and sells various so-called alternative medicine remedies. Plaintiffs filed suit against Standard for misleadingly claiming efficacy, and sought class action certification.  Class actions have become increasingly difficult to maintain in federal court, but this one seems like a worthy candidate. The plaintiffs, in their Third Amended Complaint, alleged that “there is ‘little evidence’ that homeopathy is effective.” Usually, plaintiffs are perfectly happy with just a ‘little evidence’ to support claims for many dollars, but here they complained about being duped by homeopathy and its claims of dubious validity.

On August 1, 2014, District Judge Dolly Gee certified a class on behalf of purchasers of defendants’ homeopathic remedies (Calms Forte, Teething Tablets, Migraine Headache Relief, Colic Tablets, etc.) from February 2008 to the present. Allen v. Hyland’s Inc., 2:12-cv-01150, 2014 WL 3819713 (C.D. Calif. Aug. 1, 2014). The win was no doubt as sweet as the sugar pills that they had bought.

Standard Homeopathic is represented by Norton Rose Fulbright, which also represents ethical drug manufacturers.  Curiously, the defense lawyers must not have seen the substantial potential conflict of interest in representing a homeopathic manufacturer. Watching defendants’ attempts to defend the truth of their advertised claims for homeopathic remedies should make for an interesting litigation to watch.


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