A batch of homeopathic remedies have been recalled in the US after it was discovered that they contained real medicine.
Terra-Medica is voluntarily recalling 56 lots of homeopathic drug products in liquid, tablet, capsule, ointment, and suppository forms after it was discovered the alternative treatments potentially contained penicillin or derivatives of penicillin.
Homeopathic remedies normally consists of highly diluted solutions of natural substances that supposedly "trigger the body’s natural healing process". Terra-Medical's recalled remedies are "designed" to relieve inflammations and combat infection, among other things.
It is unclear how the remedies were contaminated with antibiotics.
The recalled pills have the potential to cause serious adverse reactions to anyone allergic to penicillin.
"In patients who are allergic to beta-lactam antibiotics, even at low levels, exposure to penicillin can result in a range of allergic reactions from mild rashes to severe and life-threatening anaphylactic reactions," Terra-Medica statement (republished on the US Food and Drug Administration website) explains. "To date, Terra-Medica has not received any reports of adverse events related to this recall, nor any reports of product tests indicating penicillin content in the products."
The affected products were distributed across the US through health care practitioners, who may have sold the products through websites. Terra-Medica is notifying customers and distributors to arrange for return of all recalled products.
There's been no reports of people suffering adverse reactions after taking the remedies.
Critics of homeopathy argue its remedies are just placebos. The US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine said that "there is little evidence to support homeopathy as an effective treatment for any specific condition".
"Several key concepts of homeopathy are inconsistent with fundamental concepts of chemistry and physics. There are significant challenges in carrying out rigorous clinical research on homeopathic remedies," the organisation adds.
MPs on House of Commons concluded that homeopathic treatments had little therapeutic value and shouldn’t be funded on the NHS. NHS doctors should not refer patients to homeopaths, the lawmakers added.
Homeopathy holds that a substance that causes the symptoms of a disease can cure similar symptoms in sick people if administered in a highly diluted form. Dilution normally continues well past the point where conventional chemistry would suggest no remnant of the original substance is left in a preparation. The homeopaths claim the water contains a "memory" of the substance... There is no evidence of this.
That Mitchell and Webb Look neatly satirises the principles of homeopathy in a Homeopathic A&E sketch (below).