Friday, December 7, 2007

Homeopathic medicine as effective as conventional medicine!

There have been a number of news reports recently concerning the use of cold remedies for children, ever since the FDA made a statement in October in which they reported that there was no evidence that these drugs were effective in children under 12, and that there were concerns about safety in children under 6, especially for those under 2.

The response from an OTC drug spokesperson: It would be a Bad Idea to take children's cold remedies off the market, because without them, people would attempt to give their children smaller amounts of adult medications instead, and get it wrong, thus harming the kids. Note that there was no attempt to argue for the effectiveness of these medications, just the presentation of scary bad things that might happen if they were not available. (Interestingly, it looks like parents are not as stupid as the OTC drug pushers think - sales of children's cold remedies dropped 16% in October.)

So, back to my shocking statement about homeopathy (hoping the Ottawa Skeptics don't revoke my membership). Let's get the homeopaths together with the OTC cold remedy manufacturers, and put some nicely shaken water in little bottles adorned with friendly brightly coloured graphics. In the fine print, it will state that the medication is effective for treating a 7-day cold so that it will only last a week. That's much safer than the stuff they have on the market now, and every bit as effective.


AJM said...

Re 'hoping the Ottawa Skeptics don't revoke my membership...'

(Edits blogroll...)

Seriously, I heard that segment too, and yeah, that was a pretty pathetic statement: 'oh no, I'm not gonna say the stuff actually works or is safe... but let's keep it 'round anyway, just in case people do something even more stupid in its absence...' Riiight. That's some brilliant public health policy, right there, that is. And let's bring back leeches, too. You know. So people don't try to bleed 'emselves with straws and rusty razor blades or somethin'.

And I think the statement of the respondent along the lines of parents will do the smart thing if they have the information, I think that's generally true. There's actually been questions about these things for quite some time--we took a parental training course in infant first aid of some description back some seven years ago in DC (where my daughter was born) and I'm pretty sure that's where we were warned about them. We do actually have one preparation in the medicine cabinet, but that's because the paediatrician at the time specifically told us it was worth a try in that particular case (and also very strongly suggested at the time, if memory serves, not to go using it for anything else without consulting a pro).

Anonymous said...

I see the argument from extremes all the time.

In the same vein of kids remedies, I cringe when I see all the cold/flu medicine adverts. Here is someone, who should be in bed and not breathing on anyone, going about his business with a flu while sitting on the train. The second advert are for parents to give their kids anti-fever drugs so that they can play for eight hours (possibly even go to school??). Those germ filled, nostral picking little tykes are better off feeling a little lousy and letting the immune system do something useful.

BTW, there was some good scientific evidence over the summer that fevers increase the speed of programming of the white blood cells. Of course prolonged fevers and dehydration likely need to be dealt with after consulting a nurse/physician.