Walmart sued over how it markets homeopathic products
Walmart is selling "snake oil," said the general counsel of the organization bringing the lawsuit.
- The lawsuit was brought by a nonprofit organization called the Center For Inquiry, which last year brought a similar suit against CVS.
- Walmart currently sells a wide variety of homeopathic products in stores and online, including its own products under the Equate brand.
- The lawsuit alleges that Walmart labels and promotes homeopathic products as if they're actual medicines.
Walmart is being sued for consumer fraud over how it markets homeopathic products.
The Center For Inquiry (CFI), a nonprofit educational organization that brought the lawsuit, wrote in a court complaint that Walmart "uses marketing, labeling, and product placement to falsely present homeopathic products as equivalent alternatives to science-based medicines, and to represent homeopathic products as effective treatments for specific diseases and symptoms." (Homeopathy is an 18th-century alternative medicine system that is not supported by scientific research.)
Nicholas Little, CFI's vice president and general counsel, said Walmart is knowingly selling "snake oil."
"Walmart sells homeopathics right alongside real medicines, in the same sections in its stores, under the same signs," Little said. "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."
A Walmart spokesperson issued a statement:
"We want to be the most trusted retailer, and we look to our suppliers to provide products that meet all applicable laws, including labeling laws. Our Equate private label homeopathic products are designed to include information directly stating that the claims are not based on accepted medical evidence and have not been evaluated by the FDA."
Little argues that both Walmart and its suppliers should be held responsible for creating customer confusion.
"I think there's a responsibility for both of them," he told NPR. "By displaying a product under children's cough release or, even worse, a product under asthma medication – which can kill children and does kill children – if you are displaying a product under asthma medication, you are making an affirmative claim that it treats asthma. And homeopathic products just don't treat them."
In 2018, the Center for Inquiry brought a similar lawsuit against CVS.
"If you search for cold and flu remedies on CVS's website, you'll see homeopathic products recommended and nested right along with real medicine," the organization wrote on its website. "CVS knows that homeopathy is baseless pseudoscience. They know it doesn't work. But they're happy to take your money anyway."
The FDA and homeopathic products
Homeopathic products make up a multi-billion-dollar industry that's only expected to grow in the coming years. But despite their popularity, homeopathic products are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
In recent years, the FDA has signalled intentions to start regulating the industry more closely. For example, the administration proposed a risk-based enforcement approach in 2017 that "prioritizes enforcement and regulatory actions involving unapproved drug products labeled as homeopathic that pose the greatest risk to patients." In 2018, the FDA said its updated guidelines represent a "new era" in homeopathic regulation.
However, it's worth noting the FDA's history of treating the homeopathy industry rather leniently.
"The FDA effectively struck a deal with the homeopathic industry that says they won't be regulated as other drugs, as long as they don't say they're FDA approved," Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University who teaches courses on labeling, told NPR.
For Little and the CFI, the new lawsuit is about helping customers avoid confusion.
"It's a legal product," he said. "It can be sold. But we also are far more concerned that the person [who] isn't looking for a homeopathic product, just wants their sick kid to feel better, actually doesn't buy one of these products by mistake."
- Walmart sued for allegedly selling fake medicine - AOL Finance ›
- Walmart sued for sale of "nonsense" homeopathic remedies ›
- Walmart And Homeopathic Medicines : NPR ›
What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.
- Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
- Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
- Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
Technology may soon grant us immortality, in a sense. Here's how.
- Through the Connectome Project we may soon be able to map the pathways of the entire human brain, including memories, and create computer programs that evoke the person the digitization is stemmed from.
- We age because errors build up in our cells — mitochondria to be exact.
- With CRISPR technology we may soon be able to edit out errors that build up as we age, and extend the human lifespan.
The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.
- U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
- A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
- Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
The pizza giant Domino's partners with a Silicon Valley startup to start delivering pizza by robots.
- Domino's partnered with the Silicon Valley startup Nuro to have robot cars deliver pizza.
- The trial run will begin in Houston later this year.
- The robots will be half a regular car and will need to be unlocked by a PIN code.
Would you have to tip robots? You might be answering that question sooner than you think as Domino's is about to start using robots for delivering pizza. Later this year a fleet of self-driving robotic vehicles will be spreading the joy of pizza throughout the Houston area for the famous pizza manufacturer, using delivery cars made by the Silicon Valley startup Nuro.
The startup, founded by Google veterans, raised $940 million in February and has already been delivering groceries for Kroger around Houston. Partnering with the pizza juggernaut Domino's, which delivers close to 3 million pizzas a day, is another logical step for the expanding drone car business.
Kevin Vasconi of Domino's explained in a press release that they see these specially-designed robots as "a valuable partner in our autonomous vehicle journey," adding "The opportunity to bring our customers the choice of an unmanned delivery experience, and our operators an additional delivery solution during a busy store rush, is an important part of our autonomous vehicle testing."
How will they work exactly? Nuro explained in its own press release that this "opportunity to use Nuro's autonomous delivery" will be available for some of the customers who order online. Once they opt in, they'll be able to track the car via an app. When the vehicle gets to them, the customers will use a special PIN code to unlock the pizza compartment.
Nuro and its competitors Udelv and Robomart have been focusing specifically on developing such "last-mile product delivery" machines, reports Arstechnica. Their specially-made R1 vehicle is about half the size of a regular passenger car and doesn't offer any room for a driver. This makes it safer and lighter too, with less potential to cause harm in case of an accident. It also sticks to a fairly low speed of under 25 miles an hour and slams on the breaks at the first sign of trouble.
What also helps such robot cars is "geofencing" technology which confines them to a limited area surrounding the store.
For now, the cars are still tracked around the neighborhoods by human-driven vehicles, with monitors to make sure nothing goes haywire. But these "chase cars" should be phased out eventually, an important milestone in the evolution of your robot pizza drivers.
Check out how Nuro's vehicles work:
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