The Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill: Homeopathy, the Truth and the Placebo Effect
(2014) NZULR 26(2) 421-440
21 Pages Posted: 3 Dec 2015 Last revised: 15 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 1, 2014
The Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill establishes a system for the regulation of natural health products in New Zealand. It sets out three principles that relate to consumer information. These are: (1) that consumers should receive accurate information about natural health and supplementary products; (2) that they be told about the risks and benefits of using the product; and (3) that any health benefit claims made for the product should be supported by scientific or traditional evidence. This article examines how the Bill applies these principles to homeopathic remedies. There are two reasons for singling out this category of natural health product. First, the Bill, despite classifying homeopathic remedies as “natural health products”, excludes homeopathic remedies from major parts of the Bill. This article argues that there is no good reason to treat homeopathic remedies differently from any other natural health products. The second reason for examining homeopathic remedies is that they provide an excellent case study for issues surrounding deception and the placebo effect. The placebo effect relies on deception. The healing occurs because of the belief in the product, not the product itself. The article explores the question of whether it can ever be ethical to mislead consumers in order to facilitate the placebo effect.
Keywords: Natural, supplementary, products, regulation, science, homeopathy, placebo effect, health, consumer, protection
JEL Classification: K10, K13, K20, K23, K32, L18, L12, L11
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation