One paradox in an age full of them is the refusal of many people in developed Western countries to take advantage of one of the Western world’s great accomplishments: the drugs that keep so many of us alive and functioning. Instead, they’ll turn to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), which hasn’t been proven to help and, in too many instances, makes things worse.
STAT reports on an investigation by the FDA on homeopathic medicines that finds that one such “cure,” Hyland’s Teething Tablets, were allegedly given to eight babies who later died. According to the FDA investigation (the results of which STAT obtained under the Freedom of Information Act) the tablets, as well as the jell form, allegedly caused 370 babies to suffer seizures and stop breathing between 2006 and 2016.
STAT: “Babies who were given Hyland’s teething products turned blue and died. Babies had repeated seizures. Babies became delirious. Babies were airlifted to the hospital, where emergency room staff tried to figure out what had caused their legs and arms to start twitching.”
The company pulled the product even as it contested the FDA’s findings, saying that the FDA could not pinpoint any connection between Hyland’s Teething Tablets and any of the effects displayed.
Mary Borneman, a spokeswoman for Hyland’s Teething Tablets, told STAT: “That doesn’t mean that children don’t have a sensitivity to a product. There is a lot of sensitivity on kids’ parts and we have to watch carefully. It’s not something that condemns the entire product line.”
The teething tablets investigation makes some of the families affected question the effectiveness of the FDA policing. The FDA told Hyland to reformulate its remedies in 2010, reports STAT. But in the seven years since, reports of adverse effects of the teething products kept coming to light. (They can still be obtained on the Internet.)
An even bigger question arises: Why are homeopathic products allowed to be sold at all? The idea is that natural substances, which in pure form, could be toxic, can actually have a good medicinal affect of patients when diluted. No scientific evidence supports this assumption.
STAT: “Homeopathy has become a multibillion-dollar industry. Its products are big sellers around the world, and popular with adherents from Cher to Prince Charles. The industry also has political clout: It has been able to exempt itself from many rules proposed by Congress and the FDA over the years.”