Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Sunday, 26 May 2019

Homeopathy company in Germany issues lawyerly notices to skeptics for saying homeopathy doesn't work

Yesterday I read a new post from Edzard Ernst highlighting that a homeopathic company in Germany, Hevert Arzneimittel, had sent legal letters to homeopathy skeptics asking them to stop saying that homeopathy doesn't work and to sign an agreement to that effect or they'd have to pay just over 5,000 euros to the company.

A couple of the German skeptics affected have tweeted copies of their letters. Some Twitter apps / platforms have a 'translate' button below tweets, if not you can paste the text into Google Translate and select German to English.

In early May another homeopathy group reported Bernd Kramer to the German press association for his criticisms of homeopathy, which he tweets, and he adds updates to his thread eventually leading to the tweeted legal letter from Hevert shared on 16 May 2019.

On 24 May Natalie Grams (herself a former homeopath) tweeted her own legal letter (English translation), by which time tweeted responses to @HevertNatur's Twitter account had become robustly critical and mocking, and voluminous.

As far as I'm aware people who received the letters had not been critical of the company itself, they'd just pointed out that homeopathy doesn't work.

Given the phenomenon of the Streisand Effect (drawing even more attention to something when seeking to remove some small level of attention already received, see also Verschlimmbesserung) it seems an odd action to take, as lots of people are now sharing info about the legal action. As a consequence they are now criticising the company as well as reiterating that homeopathy does not work with the rallying cry "Homöopathie wirkt nicht über den Placebo-Effekt hinaus" or "Homeopathy does not work beyond the placebo effect".

Today Hevert has published a statement on its Facebook page (though not mentioned at time of writing on its Twitter page) explaining the action it has taken in trying to prevent criticism of homeopathy in Germany. It's interesting to note that they specifically acknowledge the effectiveness of UK skeptics^ in getting legal restrictions introduced on homeopathy* in Britain, which followed from commentary that was critical about homeopathy (a pattern they are hoping to avoid occurring in Germany). Again the (over 200) comments on the page are now critical of the company's actions and asking for evidence that homeopathy is more effective than placebo.

The comments on Edzard's post are interesting and helpful and put things into context in terms of German law. Commenter Joseph Kuhn suggests that the company may be able to assume that, legally, authorised homeopathic products are considered effective: "The German law on drugs assumes efficacy for authorised homeopathic remedies (remedies with an indication)" and so perhaps it's not unreasonable to expect people to respect that assessment.

Eppur (non) si muove, however.

^this includes scientists, doctors, patients - not just bloggers
*For example homeopathy has largely been removed from the NHS and is no longer allowed as a first line treatment by vets. There's also been a tightening of permitted marketing claims and much greater scrutiny of them.




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Comment policy: I enthusiastically welcome corrections and I entertain polite disagreement ;) Because of the nature of this blog it attracts a LOT - 5 a day at the moment - of spam comments (I write about spam practices,misleading marketing and unevidenced quackery) and so I'm more likely to post a pasted version of your comment, removing any hyperlinks.

Comments written in ALL CAPS LOCK will be deleted and I won't publish any pro-homeopathy comments, that ship has sailed I'm afraid (it's nonsense).