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Swift
Written by James Randi   

Did you see that General Mills has been scolded by the Food and Drug Administration [FDA] for having dared to advertise for two years that their product Cheerios lowers cholesterol, and for twelve years that it is “heart healthy”?  FDA authorities are pondering what action they’ll take at this grave infraction… Didn’t anyone ever tell them that the homeopathic industry has been luring the naïve away from effective life-saving medicines that actually work, while legally selling them pills and drops with ZERO content - for 70 years longer than General Mills has existed, and they've been around since 1866?

Cheerios at least provide fiber and nourishment. Homeopathy only reduces that ugly lump in your wallet.

How do we get to the FDA to get them interested in this major scam?

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written by daveg703, May 14, 2009
Very simple: Re-label some homeopathic products, perhaps adding some outlandish claims.... oh, wait- you just have to use the original claims.... send these to the FDA for approval, and when the letter of refusal arrives, (or perhaps two serious-looking people with badges instead), point out that the products are already selling like hotcakes under the homeopathic labels with no interference from the FDA. (When you ask for advice, sir, I always try to be helpful.)
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Take it door to door
written by Adavidson, May 14, 2009
Start a company, hire a few people to carry around a suit case filled with homeopathic remedies and start selling door to door.

Hi madam! And what a lovely day it is, I was wondering if you would be interesting in looking at some products I am selling. The effects are wonderful, we can cure cancer and diabetes, but also any form of stress, cardiovascular illness, head aches and sore fingers.

"Why thats sounds amazing! What research has been done?"

"As I said mam these products can heal heart burn, sore throat, ichy ears, bad breath..."

"Again, that sounds amazung, but eh, anything to back up those claims?"

"...long toe nails, dry hair, bad dog, red skin, monkey syndrom, osteoporosis,..."

"... SLAM..."

If we can reach every home in the world surely people will get the message?
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written by MadScientist, May 14, 2009
We need a lobby group to get (federal) laws passed which require homeopathic products to pass the same tests that real medicines do.

The trick here is that the labeling is misleading (and deliberately so) but not necessarily outright lying. In court you'll likely not be able to demonstrate that the labels are intentionally misleading - well, at least not in a criminal suit, maybe in a civil suit, but are there such things as civil suits in Federal courts?

SO - we need laws worded such that labels which are likely to be interpreted as promoting health benefits or cures for maladies should all pass the FDA's guidelines for acceptable pharmaceutical products. The next question is: what do you do when the manufacturers of starch pills all apply for "placebo" status on all their woostuffs?
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Sell "Placebo"
written by AndyD, May 15, 2009
I hear and read the phrase "as effective as placebo" (or variations thereof) so often on skeptical sites, I'm thinking there's money to be made by selling a product actually called "Placebo" or "Plaseebo" or some such.

I can almost see the shopper telling her friend "Wow, I've heard of this stuff. It's what they use to compare all the other medicines to. It must be good."

Doesn't quite address the question but someone maybe interested. Remember where you got the idea when you make your first million.
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That's good
written by Son of Rea, May 15, 2009
^^^That would be hilarious! You could advertise what exactly a placebo can do for you (alleviates pain, improves mood, etc.) and I guarantee it would sell like hotcakes.
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@ Andy
written by BillyJoe, May 15, 2009
I'm thinking there's money to be made by selling a product actually called "Placebo" or "Plaseebo" or some such.


It's been done. It's called "Obecalp"

http://www.prweb.com/releases/...737384.htm

sdrager.
BillyJoe
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slight correction
written by QHudspeth, May 15, 2009
Actually, after reading the letter, I see that the FDA is scolding General Mills for the way they are advertising the effect. The FDA has pretty strict guidelines for handling the link between soluble oat fiber and lowered cholesterol that General Mills was lackadaisical about: "To meet the requirements of the authorized claim, the claim must state that diets that are (1) rich in Whole grains and other plant foods, and (2) low in saturated fat and cholesterol will help reduce the risk of heart disease) Instead, the claim on your website only states that diets rich in whole grains can reduce the risk of heart disease, with no mention of other plant foods or of low saturated fat and cholesterol." I imagine General Mills will restructure their packaging according to FDA recommendations.
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Oh, the letter...
written by QHudspeth, May 15, 2009
...is here: http://www.fda.gov/foi/warning_letters/s7188c.htm
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written by bosshog, May 15, 2009
Right on as usual, Randi. We serve a government that habitually swallows camels while choking on gnats.
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written by Trez, May 15, 2009
Perhaps they should make them Homeopathic Cheerios.

Will slip through the net that way smilies/wink.gif
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written by Rustylizard, May 15, 2009
It’s hard to regulate homeopathic “remedies” since the homeopathic industry has a great dodge. Their products can’t logically be classified as drugs, food, or supplements because there is essentially NOTHING in them. Our lawmakers need to add another oversight category called “stupidity tonics.”

And homeopathic supplements need to be regulated for quality, too. How do we know the “NOTHING” we are buying is top-notch stuff? Nobody is testing it for purity. If I’m paying good money for “NOTHING,” I want to make certain a stray molecule of “SOMETHING” has not slipped into the mix. We must demand more comprehensive laws! Until we get them, I’m mixing my own NOTHING with water from the kitchen sink!
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Product Labeling
written by Realitysage, May 15, 2009
Perhaps homeopathy products should be required to issue a warning on the packaging that the sugar content may be harmful to diabetics. At least that might be a red flag to some people.
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written by pxatkins, May 15, 2009
I'm confused. You guys say there's NOTHING in homeopathic medicine and BigPharma says "NOTHING acts faster than Tylenol" ... that's good isn't it? smilies/wink.gif
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written by anthro, May 15, 2009
I take your intended point Randi, but this is a much bigger issue (the current fad in food labeling) than you may realize. It could also be the beginning of a much bigger and wider response from the FDA if we all support it. Point is: a diet of Cheerios does NOT in itself prevent heart disease, but they imply that it does. The fact that it does provide some nutrition isn't the point.

You all might want to read up on the history of how the FDA has been gutted and legislated into the cowed and powerless agency it has become. I recommend "Food Politics" by Marion Nestle, PhD for starters. Senators Harkin and Hatch (both fervent supplement cultists) have played a significant role as well. While you all were not noticing, a huge campaign was orchestrated via supplement outlets (health food stores, coops, etc.) to classify supplements as "food" rather than drugs--in opposition to the FDA.

I for one, am happy to see the FDA standing up in any way and attempting to do its job. It's a start in reversing decades of pseudo-scientific muffling of a vital agency. Don't blame the government--they just listened to the people (which does not excuse them from throwing out science, but is it their job to educate?)
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Homeopathy vs. drug legalization
written by Griz, May 15, 2009
A couple days ago there was a post where the sentiment was legalize drugs and the stupid people will all kill themselves. Today it's save the stupid people from homeopathic remedies that don't do anything.

Can someone explain this to me? It's okay to legalize drugs that definitely have verifiable effects and dangers, but we're outraged that it's legal to sell something that has no effect at all, benign or otherwise, because it's somehow dangerous for people to use?
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Foot in the Door? Camel's Nose?
written by GusGus, May 15, 2009
We can all hope that this is an indication that the FDA is starting to do its job. Maybe this is just the first product that they will attack. Start with the easy ones, then proceed to the harder ones. We can only hope (or pray if that's your thing).
.
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"How do we get to the FDA to get them interested in this major scam?"
written by Diverted Chrome, May 15, 2009
I'm thinking you might have enough pull to snag a meeting with your congressman, JR. Start there.
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written by Kuroyume, May 15, 2009
Can someone explain this to me? It's okay to legalize drugs that definitely have verifiable effects and dangers, but we're outraged that it's legal to sell something that has no effect at all, benign or otherwise, because it's somehow dangerous for people to use?


I would imagine that if drugs were legalized they would, de factor, fall under the food and DRUG administration. For legal distribution, this would mean that these drugs would need to meet certain standards of quality, purity, and so on.

Currently, homeopathic 'medications' don't fall under the FDA's standards yet are sold legally but with ludicrous claims.

One thing to say about heroine or cocaine: noone is promising that these will cure cancer!
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Find an interested representative. Maybe at the state level.
written by CasaRojo, May 15, 2009
I can't help but find it hilarious that with all the obvious snake oil on the market that the FDA would jump all over General Mills about Cheerios. They've been making this claim for a while if I'm not mistaken. FDA been dozing? Awoke to a box of Cheerios on the table and read the label?
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written by Habenero, May 15, 2009
Homeopathy vs. drug legalization
written by Griz, May 15, 2009
"A couple days ago there was a post where the sentiment was legalize drugs and the stupid people will all kill themselves. Today it's save the stupid people from homeopathic remedies that don't do anything.

Can someone explain this to me? It's okay to legalize drugs that definitely have verifiable effects and dangers, but we're outraged that it's legal to sell something that has no effect at all, benign or otherwise, because it's somehow dangerous for people to use?"

When there is a huge glut of information, people tend to think "if it worked for Oprah it must be OK". They make bad choices that way. Every person has made a decision based upon somebody else's recommendation. It is a short cut that can have disastrous results, but it does not mean the person was stupid.

Drug laws have a tendency to cause harm to our wallets and increase violent crimes. Legalizing drugs is more of an effort to curtail the violence that arises from needing to "protect" the merchandise from being confiscated by the law or rivals. It also would eliminate much of the over crowding in our prisons by eliminating many of the nonviolent people incarcerated for possession.
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I know!
written by tjenks, May 15, 2009
Send all members of congress for accupuncture treatments and chiropactric realingment. Then, while they're being treated for hepatitis from dirty needles, and stoke from neck 'adjustments' they can ponder the effects on the general public!
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Whoops!
written by tjenks, May 15, 2009
Yes, I said stoke instead of stroke above! My aura must be off... smilies/cheesy.gif
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written by José, May 15, 2009
I'm not a big fan of normal homeopathic medicine, but I really enjoy honey nut homeopathic medicine.
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written by José, May 15, 2009
Can someone explain this to me? It's okay to legalize drugs that definitely have verifiable effects and dangers, but we're outraged that it's legal to sell something that has no effect at all, benign or otherwise, because it's somehow dangerous for people to use?


People don't smoke pot under the mistaken belief it will cure them of some ailment. Homeopathy is a scam that may causes people to avoid proper treatment based on the belief homeopathy works.
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written by iiwo, May 15, 2009
My super sneaky and likely illegal idea:

1. Print up "FDA approved" stickers that are obviously fake (say, have mickey mouse on them or something).

2. Stick these stickers on homeopath bottles, covering price tags or labels.

3. Call the FDA to inquire about these new labels and medicines.

4. Call various news outlets about a potential fraud being investigated by the FDA into the labeling of certain products.

5. Get in lots and lots of trouble legally. Also feel guilty for potentially perpetrating a fraud if all goes not according to plan.

6. Don't actually do this. Please...

(I'm not serious, this is a Poe if you're wondering).

7. This last item may actually work: encourage the drug companies to promote FDA approval on some things. Ie, a big publicity/pr campaign for and against selected items.

Imagine the following jingle on your tv or radio: "The FDA approved this tylenol/etc {show actual medicine} because it worked succesfully in x% of lab trials against a placebo. Believe it or not, the placebo is for sale as well from {show various samples of homeopathic varieties}. They want you to think it works. Remember Bob, the mind is a powerful thing and a strong suggestion combined with placebo will work in some cases, but for the real thing use {insert name of drug and company here}!"

Yeah...I'm liking number seven. Implementing is a pain, but it's a place to start!
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I'm With Griz
written by bosshog, May 16, 2009
You can't have it both ways.
Already legalized drugs - i.e. alcohol - are advertised as having all kinds of socially and sexually facilitative properties, all of which are fictitious. Only the dimmest among us believe that these claims have any truth in them.
This whole issue points out the paramount importance of a person's being skeptical and thinking critically. One simply must think for himself and question EVERYthing - we can't expect the government (another deceitful gang of larcenous rogues, by the way) to do all our food-tasting for us.
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I disagree with bosshog and Griz
written by BillyJoe, May 16, 2009
They are quite separate issues.

The question of whether to legalise the sale of drugs in order to remove or reduce the criminal element and thereby reduce the harm is quite a separate issue to the question of whether the sale of homeopathic treatments should be banned because there is no evidence of effectiveness and some evidence of harm.

BJ
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written by Steel Rat, May 16, 2009
Perhaps they should make them Homeopathic Cheerios.


Homeos?
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written by Steel Rat, May 16, 2009
When there is a huge glut of information, people tend to think "if it worked for Oprah it must be OK". They make bad choices that way. Every person has made a decision based upon somebody else's recommendation. It is a short cut that can have disastrous results, but it does not mean the person was stupid.


What does it make them, then?
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written by Mark P, May 17, 2009
Already legalized drugs - i.e. alcohol - are advertised as having all kinds of socially and sexually facilitative properties, all of which are fictitious.

Do people in the US actually advertise that alcohol will get you sex? Really? Or do they just infer it?

And, while it may be unpalatable to accept it, alcohol is notoriously effective at social and sexual facilitation.

If a company came out and said: "get some girls sloshed and they are much easier to bed" then it would be unethical. But you would have a hard case proving it to be untrue.
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written by Mark P, May 17, 2009
Oops, sorry missed the quote marks. smilies/sad.gif
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Small step?
written by Careyp74, May 18, 2009
The FDA in this case is only telling GM that they need to change the wording. Besides, there have been studies proving the efficacy of soluble fiber in reducing cholesterol. What exactly did GM do wrong? What exactly did "we" win? No high fives warranted in this case.
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@ Careyp74
written by BillyJoe, May 18, 2009
Please read the article again.
James Randi is lambasting the FDA for going after this small insignificant case:

"for having dared to advertise etc etc"
"Cheerios at least provide fiber and nourishment"

whilst leaving the big guy:

"Homeopath...this major scam"
"the homeopathic industry has been luring the naïve away from effective life-saving medicines that actually work, while legally selling them pills and drops with ZERO content and ZERO effect"

untouched.

BillyJoe
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written by patrick767, May 19, 2009
Adavidson, unfortunately the approach you describe would not always result in a slammed door. You might just sell a lot of product. I'm reminded of the Chasers selling people on "Oil of Snake", "Bull candles" (made of 100% pure bull) and "Bollocks" in an Australian market:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nPXvR8zMWv4
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written by BillyJoe, May 19, 2009
That chaser guy's not bad, but I think all those women were a little bit turned on by him and were helping him out a bit. That brunette in particular was suppressing a smile behind her serious exterior.

smilies/grin.gif

BJ
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