A new lawsuit by the Center for Inquiry (CFI) alleges Walmart is "committing wide-scale consumer fraud and endangering the health of its customers through its sale and marketing of homeopathic medicines."
The lawsuit was filed in the District of Columbia last month. CFI is also involved in a similar suit against CVS, which has been ongoing since June 2018.
"Walmart sells homeopathics right alongside real medicines, in the same sections in its stores, under the same signs," said Nicholas Little, CFI's Vice President and General Counsel. "Searches on its website for cold and flu remedies or teething products for infants yield pages full of homeopathic junk products. It's an incredible betrayal of customers' trust and an abuse of Walmart's titanic retail power."
CFI defines Homeopathy as an 18th-century pseudoscience "premised on the absurd, unscientific notion that a substance that causes a particular symptom is what should be ingested to alleviate it." The nonprofit organization dedicated to defending science says these snake oil medicines that line the shelves at Walmart are diluted with limited to no traces of an active ingredient.
"Walmart can't claim it doesn't know that homeopathy is snake oil, because it runs its own enormous pharmacy business and make its own homeopathic products," said Little. "So whether it's a scientifically proven remedy like aspirin or flatly denounced junk like homeopathic teething caplets for babies, Walmart sells all of it under its in-house 'Equate' branding. It's all the same to Walmart."
CFI said the use of homeopathic treatments "can result in worsened or prolonged symptoms, and in some cases, even death."
"Despite being among the richest corporations on Earth and the largest retailer in the United States, Walmart chooses to further pad its massive wealth by tricking consumers into throwing their money away on sham medicinal products that are scientifically proven to be useless and potentially dangerous," said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry. "We intend to put a stop to it."
CFI has become the top nonprofit to advocate for science-based medicine and against the proliferation of fake drugs in major retailers.
In 2015 CFI provided expert testimony to the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission. As a result, the FTC announced in 2016 that the marketing of homeopathic products would need to include disclaimers that read: "(1) there is no scientific evidence that the product works and (2) the product's claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts."
As for Walmart and even CVS, CFI intends to put an end to mega-retailers deceiving consumers by selling fake drugs and misleading consumers by making no meaningful distinction between real medicine and homeopathic treatments.