Jury verdict in favour of homeopathic remedy

Jury verdict in favour of homeopathic remedy

Ninth Circuit affirms jury verdict in favour of homeopathic remedy for flu-like symptoms


Lawrence I Weinstein

Tiffany Woo

Originally published in The National Law Review (December 12, 2018)

On November 8, 2018, the Ninth Circuit affirmed a jury verdict in a consumer class action deceptive advertising case in favour of Defendants Boiron Inc. and Boiron USA, Inc. (together, “Boiron”), the sellers of a homeopathic treatment for flu-like symptoms called Oscillococcinum (“Oscillo”). Although the Ninth Circuit’s memorandum decision is marked “Not for Publication” and therefore is non-precedential under Ninth Circuit rules, the decision is still worth noting, as jury verdicts in class action false advertising cases are rare.

Oscillo’s active ingredient

According to the appellate briefs, Oscillo’s active ingredient is a compound (extracted from the heart and liver of the Muscovy duck for those foodies in our readership) that is subjected to a homeopathic dilution process. The diluted compound is then sprayed onto specially-manufactured granules.

Plaintiff argued that, due to the homeopathic dilution process, Oscillo was essentially “water sprayed on sugar,” which could not provide the relief from flu-like symptoms that Boiron advertised. Plaintiff claimed that Boiron had therefore violated two California deceptive advertising statutes, the Unfair Competition Law (“UCL”) and Consumers Legal Remedies Act (“CLRA”).


At the conclusion of a one-week trial in the Central District of California, the jury found in Boiron’s favour that its representations that Oscillo relieves flu-like symptoms were not false. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit affirmed, finding that the jury verdict did not constitute plain error because Boiron presented sufficient evidence from which the jury could have concluded that Oscillo actually works against flu-like symptoms.

Battle of the experts
This was a “battle of the experts” for the jury, the court wrote, that could not be relitigated on appeal. And the jury appeared to have believed Boiron’s expert, clinical studies, and anecdotal evidence more than it believed the plaintiff’s expert, according to the court.

The Ninth Circuit further noted that in explicitly finding that Boiron’s claim that Oscillo treated flu-like symptoms was not false, the jury must have implicitly rejected Plaintiff’s argument that Oscillo was merely a sugar pill or water sprayed on sugar. Nor did Plaintiff offer a theory of how Boiron’s representations could be false if the product did indeed treat flu symptoms.

The case is Christopher Lewert v. Boiron Inc., et al., No. 17-56607 in the Ninth Circuit.

© 2018 Proskauer Rose LLP.

Message from the ECH General Secretary

Message from the ECH General Secretary

Dear colleagues,

The Symposium “Homeopathy in the 21st Century”, jointly organised by ECH, IAVH and the Association of Homeopathic Physicians in Bulgaria, was a great success. It was attended by more than 400 medical doctors, veterinarians and pharmacists from 27 countries.

The lectures and presentations discussed the integration of conventional and homeopathic medicine and showed practical examples. Dr Gheeta Krishnan Gopalakrishna Pillai, Technical Officer at the Traditional, Complementary, and Integrative Medicine Unit at the World Health Organization presented the WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023.

The Symposium that took place in Sofia on 17 and 18 November was preceded by Workshops on Research and Provings, a Veterinarian Seminar and the ECH General Assembly. The General Assembly elected Dr Tiziana di Gampietro as new Research Coordinator and re-elected Dr Sara Eames, as Vice-president, Dr Arlette Blanchy, as Treasurer and Dr Ilse Muchitsch, as Pharmacy Coordinator.

The press conference attracted many journalists from both the health and mainstream press. The Bulgarian media published interviews with Dr Raj K. Manchanda, Director General of the Central Council for Research in Homeopathy of India, Dr Hélène Renoux, ECH President, Dr Edward de Beukelaer, IAVH President and Dr Sigrid Kruse from the University Children’s Hospital in Munich.

The Symposium was accredited by the Bulgarian Medical Board, the Bulgarian Medical Association and the Bulgarian Pharmaceutical Union.

We are very grateful to the Association of Homeopathic Physicians in Bulgaria, and specially to Dr Dora Pachova, Chairperson of the Association, for the great amount of time and effort devoted to make this Symposium a success.

We are also grateful to all speakers and participants, specially to the big number of Bulgarian general practitioners and specialists that attended the Symposium, because they showed that homeopathy can help to improve quality of care, patients’ safety and cost-benefit in health care.

Dr Jaume Costa

ECH General Secretary

Read more from ECH Newsletter

Death of Dr Peter Fisher

Death of Dr Peter Fisher

It was with great shock and sadness that we received news of the death of the Faculty President, Dr. Peter Fisher, in a road accident near the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (RLHIM), London, UK, on 15th August 2018.

Our thoughts go out to his family first of all at this dreadful time. They have lost a loved one, whilst we have lost a leader.

Dr. Fisher was Director of Research at the hospital, Europe’s largest centre for integrative medicine. He was also Physician to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. The Royal family’s association with homeopathic medicine extends back to Queen Victoria, who admired and was treated by Dr. Frederic Quin, one of the founders of the London Homoeopathic Hospital in 1849; George VI permitted “Royal” to be suffixed to its name in 1948.

Long tradition

By long tradition one of the monarch’s physicians unofficially takes responsibility for homeopathic treatment, and it was this role that Peter took on in 2001. He modestly suggested that his appointment was “a matter of being in the right place at the right time” and praised both the Queen and the Prince of Wales for their open-mindedness.

A graduate of Cambridge University and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and the Faculty of Homeopathy, he was a widely published expert in rheumatology and forms of complementary and alternative medicine. He was previously Honorary Consultant Rheumatologist at King’s College Hospital.

Dr. Fisher chaired the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) working group on homeopathy and was a member of WHO’s Expert Advisory Panel on Traditional and Complementary Medicine. He was awarded the Albert Schweitzer Gold Medal of the Polish Academy of Medicine in 2007.

He worked for more than 30 years at the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital (renamed the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine in 2010) Dr. Fisher was the hospital’s Director of Research from 1996 and, in addition, its Clinical Director from 1998 to 2014.

Peter Fisher was one of homeopathy’s most devoted and convincing champions – articulate and authoritative as a writer and speaker. As the Faculty report says ‘it is no exaggeration to say that in Peter we have lost an irreplaceable talent, a giant in all his fields of professional endeavour – as a clinician, a researcher, an academic and a champion of medical homeopathy. It is a huge loss to his family and our community.

Peter Antony Goodwin Fisher

Peter Antony Goodwin Fisher was born on September 2, 1950, to Antony Fisher and his wife Eve. He was educated at Tonbridge School and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, before training at Westminster Hospital Medical School.

His first encounter with alternative medicine came when he went on a field trip to China while he was an undergraduate.

“I was astonished to see a woman having surgery on her abdomen without an anaesthetic,” he recalled. “

To manage the pain, all she had was three little acupuncture needles in her left ear. This was something I hadn’t been taught in any Cambridge lecture.”

He became ill himself as a medical student and, when his doctors told him that nothing could be done to alleviate his symptoms, he gave himself homeopathic treatment, with some success.

There were no opportunities at the time to be trained as a consultant in homeopathy, so he took a position as a research fellow in rheumatology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital. By good luck, a professor at the hospital shared his interest in homeopathy and they published one of the first serious studies of the discipline, in the British Medical Journal.

From 1986 he was the editor of the journal “Homeopathy”.

Peter Fisher was a Fellow of the Faculty of Homeopathy and had recently become its President; he was also elected a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1997. He traveled around the world as a lecturer, noting that homeopathy was taken more seriously in most other countries and suggesting that this was because, in the UK, patients are unusually submissive to the will of their doctors.

He died near the RLHIM when he was struck by a lorry while cycling.

Peter Fisher married, in 1997 to Nina Oxenham; they had two daughters.

Dr Peter Fisher, born September 2 1950, died August 15 2018.

Vice-President, Dr Gary Smyth, is to step up to the Faculty Presidency pro tem. All colleagues have the opportunity to mourn Peter’s loss and celebrate his life at Faculty Congress in Liverpool 11 – 14 October 2018.

BAHVS Position Statement…

BAHVS Position Statement
on Danny Chambers et al Petition

The whole premise of this campaign is based on the blatant misrepresentation that homeopathic medicines are ‘only water’. This is plainly not true. A global initiative of over 100 researchers from a mutiplicity of disciplines (the Group Recherche sur linfinitessimal’ (GIRI) has been studying solutions described as ‘ultra-dilutionse’ for 30 years. They have observed unequivocal evidence of their bioactivity. PubMed alone contains more than 100 papers. Recently, researchers have proven existence of nanoparticles in such solutions.

The foundation of the campaign is therefore untenable from a scientific point of view.

The principle of hormesis (the paradoxical dose-response curves exhibited by biological systems) goes some way towards explaining the homeopathic effect, whereby ‘like cures like’. This phenomenon is recognised in main stream pharmacology and demonstrable in conventional medicines.

Following on from this, it is nonsense to suggest that homeopathy has been proven to be ineffective. There is a wealth of scientific papers demonstrating the beneficial effect of homeopathy, in humans and in animals. Among them are a clinical audit published in the Veterinary Record, and the most recent meta-analysis in homeopathy, published in 2014 in the peer-reviewed journal Systematic Review, that concluded there was a significant treatment effect beyond placebo.

On the veterinary database www.homeopathicvet.org we now list 839 publications on Veterinary Homeopathy in Peer Reviewed publications, 144 Peer Reviewed in-vitro studies, 490 non-peer reviewed cases and articles on Veterinary treatments, as well as 379 Agrohomeopathy references.

Furthermore the evidence cited by the campaigners against homeopathy is flawed

The negative conclusions from the House of Commons evidence check in 2010 have been discredited because only three members of the committee voted in favour of the report, two of whom were not present to hear the evidence. Hence 70 MPs signed an Early Day Motion criticising it and being aware of this, the government of the day rejected it.

On the contrary, in 2011, the Swiss Government conducted a study on homeopathy and found it to be effective, hence it enshrined in law the principle that homeopathy should be available in the state health system. Homeopathy is afforded legal protection by the EU.

Many veterinary organisations recognise the benefits of homeopathy. For instance, In their final report on antimicrobial (AM) resistance, FEEVA (The European Federation of Equine Veterinary Associations) states:

‘In treatment of sick horses, research on AM replacement should focus primarily in areas where there already is scientific evidence – namely:





Or any other evidence based means.’

It is clear that this campaign is neither rational nor professional. It attempts to remove from the veterinary domain a vital form of medicine which affords relief to patients when other therapies are ineffective, and it attempts to do so by spreading misinformation.

The RCVS (Royal College Of Veterinary Surgeons – the governing body in the UK) have issued a policy statement in regard to the practice of homeopathy by qualified veterinary surgeons. The views of RCVS were reiterated in 2006, when this issue was last raised. At that time they added recognition of the demand for homoeopathy for animals, stating that:

“Whatever views there may be within the veterinary profession it is clear that there is a demand from some clients for complementary and alternative therapies. It is better that they should seek advice from a veterinary surgeon – who is qualified to make a diagnosis, and can be held to account for the treatment given – rather than turning to a practitioner who does not have veterinary training. 

That is why RCVS has in the past published in the Register a list of veterinary surgeons who hold homeopathic qualifications. Now that we have updated the “Find a Vet” part of the RCVS website (www.rcvs.org.uk/findavet) so that the public can find and choose veterinary practices who offer complementary treatments we feel this is more helpful than publishing a list of practitioners in the Register.”

“Any decision by the Government on NHS funding of homoeopathy does not change the position that homoeopathy is accepted by society, recognised in UK medicines legislation and does not in itself cause harm to animals. While this is the case, it is difficult to envisage any justification for banning a small number of veterinary surgeons from practicing homoeopathy.”

We regard this petition as nothing more than an attempt to prevent client freedom of choice in regard to available treatments for their animals. Homeopathy is the original evidence based medicine.

Some of the signatories of this petition were also those on a similar attempt in the USA. It was dismissed comprehensively by the AVMA who said “they were not in the business of telling vets what medicine/modalities they could use.“

RCVS statement

RCVS Statement – November 3, 2017

Statement of the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons in response to the RCVS statement of November 3, 2017 as regards Complementary and Alternative Medicines.


We are deeply disappointed that the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS) has chosen to step outside its remit and make such an ill-considered and misinformed statement regarding Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) in general, and Homeopathy in particular. The RCVS mission statement is:

“Setting, upholding and advancing the educational, ethical and clinical standards of Veterinary Surgeons and Veterinary Nurses”.

In making this statement on CAM the RCVS fails its mission on so many levels, but in particular when one considers ethics.

The RCVS failed to consult at all with stakeholders actually involved in CAM, despite representations to be so consulted, before considering and issuing their statement. This failure is contrary to the usual manner in which the RCVS conducts itself.

It is commonly accepted that it is not the role of a regulator to seek to influence clinical judgement nor to resolve differences of scientific opinion. The RCVS has stated many times that it does not get involved. Yet the current RCVS Council has seemingly, willingly, allowed itself to be seduced by a belief-based irresponsible diatribe from a vocal minority into a precedent-setting restriction of the clinical freedoms the profession has always enjoyed. In doing so it has ignored advice from its own advising committees and it has embarked on a course that will stifle future innovation, research and evolution of new treatment modalities.

It is perhaps no coincidence that it should do so when there is an explosion of interest in CAM, including Homeopathy, in the agricultural sector where the drive is to reduce and replace dependence on antibiotics in light of Antibiotic Resistance (AMR) concerns, and some of the most successful methods so far are proving to be those defined as CAM.

It is fact that some of the largest “conventional" veterinary practices in the UK dealing with animal production for food are the ones leading the way on this, seeking out treatments as “alternative”, and Homeopathy is proving one of the successful modalities.

In singling out the issue of prophylactic treatments – the very use of CAM for which in agriculture significantly threatens the finances of the Pharmaceutical Industry – the RCVS puts itself into a position where it can be accused of putting profits before probity, and corporations before conscience - or is it just naïve and completely out of touch?

The RCVS statement and the associated debates, have created a moral imperative for many mainstream practices of the profession to be publicly examined in detail. We are sure over the coming weeks, months and years there will be uncomfortable times ahead for all branches of the profession. It is just not acceptable for the mainstream body of vets to claim the moral high ground when the evidence base for much of Veterinary Science is poor at best. 

There is plenty of evidence of poor and demonstrably harmful practices ignored in the modern corporate world in favour of targets and profitability. Industry business journals even run articles on “mining” the best clients for cash.

History tells us that to question the RCVS and the status quo is a dangerous path. 

In making the statement as it has, regarding CAM in general and Homeopathy in particular, the RCVS has shown its lack of consideration for those affected. This includes those who own and care for animals where their freedom of choice may be restricted. What of patients already on treatments they may now be denied? There is no published impact assessment or route to compensation for those whose practices are now suffering.

In creating a complainant’s charter, the RCVS Council must accept that it needs to face up to questions of its own. It is arguably now complicit in deception of the public, which its very existence is meant to protect.

So what of the evidence argument against CAM? 

There is in fact very good evidence for much of CAM, including and especially Homeopathy, with many peer-reviewed papers in a number of Journals. However, these papers are routinely ignored by the establishment as they are published in CAM journals. This is bizarre when one considers that a parasitologist will publish in a journal of parasitology, a pharmacist in a journal of pharmacology, so why not a homeopath in the journal “Homeopathy”?

A level playing field regarding evidence it is not. 

The bar is raised so high by the RCVS for CAM that it can never compete. Funding for research has been historically blocked by bodies such as the BVA. When the mainstream journals are sponsored by Big Pharma and other vested interests, so that Editors dare not publish CAM papers, it is unfair and corrupt to criticise CAM in this way. 

The RCVS's own Science Committee in this debate noted that the evidence base for a number of accepted “conventional” treatments is lacking so why pick on CAM, which has as good if not better in place, and is not subject to the same fallacies that can contaminate the most prestigious journals when researcher and publisher bias and fraud are led by the money men?

Clients actively seek out CAM therapies for their animals as conventional medicines regularly fail or produce unacceptable side effects. Homeopathy has previously been recognised in the RCVS register as having a specialist qualification (it still does), and is independently examined and regulated, which is perhaps why it attracts the most ire of the CAM options.


Homeopathy is in fact provided for in UK and EU Legislation. It is required to be available, cannot be banned without a change in the Law, and it behoves the profession to embrace it, even if in the minority.

A witch-hunt has been conducted on an unprecedented scale in the profession. This has been aided by the support on social media of some Past Presidents of the RCVS and BVA, RCVS Council members and by the profession’s media chiefs.

Time for it to stop

It is time for it to stop. It discredits those making and supporting the attacks on colleagues, discredits the profession and, by disseminating false conclusions to the media, adds to the growing and damaging public distrust of science and of our profession.

The RCVS sits at the very core of our profession. It has to be the ethical face of the profession and has to set an example to the profession. In this case it falls far short of the high standard it should project.

In making such a statement as it now has, the RCVS has lost all credibility in the Evidence Based Medicine debate, and has eschewed the moral integrity required to regulate the profession. Its statement should be withdrawn immediately.

5th November 2017