The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is taking a homeopathy website to court for claiming that the whooping cough vaccine is dangerous and ineffective. The consumer watchdog accuses Homeopathy Plus! of making misleading and deceptive statements that could lead to serious health risks for consumers.
Vaccine picture from Shutterstock
The ACCC was originally directed to the website by the medical profession, which objected to claims that homeopathic remedies are a proven and safe alternative to the current whooping cough vaccine. The ACCC is seeking an injunction to have the claims removed, as well as penalties against the company and individuals.
The ACCC claims that the material on the website could influence consumers to avoid the whooping cough vaccine and rely solely on a homeopathic approach for treatment. This is strongly discouraged by medical professionals.
“The combination of claims that the vaccine was ineffective and that the homeopathic remedies listed on the page were an alternative prevention and treatment regime elevated this matter to one of extreme concern,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said in an earlier statement.
This is the second time Homeopathy Plus! has come under the ire of the ACCC. In 2012, the organisation was forced to remove similar statements about the whooping cough vaccine from its website.
The "alternative medicine" industry has been a regular target of the Australian health sector — in March 2012, the Medical Journal of Australia published a paper calling on universities to be more stringent about the kinds of medicinal courses they offer.
"Subjects such as acupuncture and chiropractic are claimed to treat a broad array of afflictions and are taught as such. The levels of evidence supporting these alternative beliefs are weak at best," the paper argued.