Advertising for over-the-counter homeopathic products will be the subject of a Federal Trade Commission workshop scheduled for September 21.

Over the last few decades, the multibillion-dollar industry has undergone major changes, that, according to the agency, necessitate a review of its marketing and advertising practices, particularly because its primary marketing focus has shifted from individual user formulations to mass-market products that are sold nationwide by major retailers. The public workshop will bring together stakeholders with differing perspectives, ranging from medical professionals to consumer advocates to industry representatives and government regulators. To help stimulate discussion, the agency invited attendees to submit research and/or issues for discussion.

Topics to be covered include the changes in the homeopathic market and its advertising, the level of consumers’ awareness, and the science behind homeopathy and its effectiveness. Also on the agenda are the effects of recent homeopathic-related class action lawsuits, the application of Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act to ad claims for homeopathic products, and the public policy concerns about the existing federal regulations.

The deadline for submitting public comments is Friday, November 20.

For more information on the Homeopathic Medicine & Advertising Workshop, click here.

Why it matters: Homeopathic products are on the radar of federal regulators, having just been the subject of a two-day Food and Drug Administration public hearing in April, titled “Homeopathic Product Regulation: Evaluating FDA’s Regulatory Framework After a Quarter-Century.” The FDA event focused on product regulations, while the FTC workshop will take a different approach and consider product advertising, including the substantiation necessary to satisfy the requirements of Section 5 of the FTC Act. Industry should keep a close eye on these proceedings.