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The Food and Drug Administration said it plans to crack down on the sale of some homeopathic products.
The agency unveiled on Monday a new risk-based approach to regulate homeopathic treatments that aims to protect the public from dangerous products.
"In recent years, we have seen a big spike in products labeled homeopathic that are marketed for a wide range of diseases and conditions, from the common cold to cancer," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a statement. the new policy.
"In many cases, people can place their trust and money in therapies that can provide little or no benefit in the fight against serious ailments or, what is worse, can cause significant and even irreparable damage because the products do not work Well manufactured, or contains active ingredients that have not been tested or adequately revealed to patients, "says Gottlieb.
Homeopathy is an ancient practice based on the idea that small traces of substances that because diseases can actually be used to treat diseases. But critics have long accused that there is no scientific evidence to support homeopathy and that some homeopathic products could be dangerous.
Critics have been especially concerned about products contaminated with hazardous substances, or sold for serious diseases for which other treatments tested work.
The FDA has issued warnings about specific products in the past, and the Federal Trade Commission has required better labeling of homeopathic products.
But in the last decade, the homeopathic drug market has grown "exponentially," according to the FDA, becoming an industry of nearly $ 3 billion in the United States.
The FDA has seen a "corresponding increase in safety concerns, including serious adverse events" resulting from homeopathic products, says the FDA.
In response to the growth and continuing concerns, the FDA convened a public hearing to review a 1988 decision not to regulate homeopathic products as standard medical treatments.
Under the new policy, the FDA will look more closely at these products, especially those sold to treat babies and children, those that contain ingredients with significant safety concerns, such as belladonna, and those that are sold for serious illnesses, such as addiction to opioids, heart disease and cancer.  "We respect that some people want to use alternative treatments, but the FDA has a responsibility to protect the public from products that may not offer any benefit and have the potential to cause harm," says Gottlieb.
Representatives of the Homeopathy industry did not respond immediately to requests for comments.
During an informational meeting for journalists on the proposed new policy, FDA officials emphasized that the agency did not intend to demand that most homeopathic products that are on the market, however, or for eliminate most homeopathic products. Then, people who believe that the products help them will have access to many homeopathic products, officials said.
The proposed policy will be open for public comment for 90 days. The agency will review the comments before making the final policy.
The action of the agency was praised by the long-term critics of the industry.
"I think it's about time these snake oil sellers are responsible for what we're selling," says Paul Offit, a pediatrician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. "The consumer will clearly benefit."