Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tell Walmart to Stop Selling and Marketing an Ineffective Homeopathic Flu Remedy




Tell Walmart to Stop Selling and Marketing an Ineffective Homeopathic Flu Remedy

On January 26, the Committee for Scientific Inquiry (CSI) and the Center for Inquiry (CFI) issued a public statement rebuking Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Wal-Mart”) for selling and marketing an ineffective homeopathic flu remedy, Boiron Oscillococcinum, through the company's website, (Boiron is the manufacturer; oscillococcinum is the homeopathic product.) 

Leading names in the scientific and medical community signed the statement, including Venki Ramakrishnan, Ph.D., the 2009 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry; Simon Singh, Ph.D., MBE, and Edzard Ernst, M.D., Ph.D., F.Med. Sci., FSB, FRCP, FRCP (Edin.), authors of Trick or Treatment: The Undeniable Facts About Alternative Medicine; and many others. Today CSI and CFI announced the names of additional leading scientists and physicians who have endorsed the statement.

We are now inviting the public to sign the statement and help urge Wal-Mart to end its promotion of Boiron Oscillococcinum.

There is no credible scientific evidence to support the effectiveness of Boiron Oscillococcinum beyond what is expected from the placebo effect. The product's allegedly active ingredient consists of mere liquefied duck liver and duck heart, substances early 20th century homeopaths thought contained a nonexistent bacterium they dubbed “oscillococci.” Moreover, Boiron Oscillococcinum’s homeopathic preparation requires repeatedly diluting the “active ingredient” in water until the odds that the solution contains even a single molecule of it are effectively zero.

CSI and CFI’s statement reads, in part: “We urge Wal-Mart to cease marketing this ineffective product immediately. Although we recognize that doing so might not serve Wal-Mart’s financial interest, we hope Wal-Mart will act appropriately out of a sense of ethical obligation. The cooperation of good corporate citizens is indispensable if public consumers are to rely on the claims of health-remedy producers and the companies that market their products.”

CSI and CFI contacted Wal-Mart in November 2010 regarding its inaccurate and misleading marketing of Boiron Oscillococcinum and first published the statement in January. To date, Wal-Mart has neither responded to nor acknowledged receipt of CSI and CFI's letter. “We have issued a public statement because Wal-Mart has failed to respond to our privately expressed concerns,” explained Ronald A. Lindsay, president & CEO of both CSI and CFI. “Our goal is not to embarrass Wal-Mart, but to persuade Wal-Mart to stop marketing ineffective products to people who are ill. The health of Wal-Mart’s customers should be more important than the extra dollars to be made by selling junk such as oscillococcinum.”

In the “Medicine Cabinet” section of its website, Wal-Mart assures customers that products such as Boiron Oscillococcinum will “fight colds and the flu.” Wal-Mart’s website further promises to help the customer “stay on top of cold and flu season by learning about products that can help you and your family stay well, relieve symptoms and recover fast.” In its “Cough, Cold, and Flu Buying Guide,” Wal-Mart also asserts that its products will provide the customer “with everything you and your family need for battling a cold or the flu.”

Wal-Mart's marketing of oscillococcinum is a profound disservice to the public. Influenza is a serious illness. It can lead to complications resulting in hospitalization or even death, especially among the elderly, the very young, and individuals with certain health conditions.  It is imperative that consumers not be led to believe that effective preventive and therapeutic measures can be ignored in favor of something that amounts to “snake oil.” A product that is useless is a product that is harmful.

Please help us to persuade Wal-Mart to cease marketing this ineffective product immediately. You may read the full text of CSI and CFI's statement here:

Take action now by adding your name to the statement.

Take Action - RedButtonSet

Click on the "Take Action" button above or visit to sign the statement.



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