Back in February I mentioned the Homeopathy Plus was being taken to court by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission for making false and misleading claims about the efficacy of Homeopathy.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted Federal Court proceedings over allegedly misleading claims on a homeopathy website regarding the effectiveness of the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine.
The ACCC has taken proceeding against Homeopathy Plus! Australia Pty Ltd and against the owners of the Homeopathy Plus! website.
The claims on the Homeopathy Plus! website include statements that the whooping cough vaccine is “unreliable” and “largely ineffective” in preventing whooping cough and that homeopathic remedies are a safe and effective alternative for the prevention and treatment of whooping cough.
The ACCC alleges that these claims are misleading and deceptive, in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The ACCC is seeking an injunction to have the claims removed, as well as penalties against the company and individuals.
Whooping cough is a highly infectious respiratory disease which is most serious in young children. The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing recommends children receive the whooping cough vaccine as part of routine childhood immunisation. –ACCC Public Release
Fran Sheffield of Homeopathy Plus sent out a media release earlier this year with more indepth details of the case.
At the Directions Hearing in the Federal Court last Friday (March 1, 2013), the ACCC sought immediate orders and a fast-tracked date for when the case would be heard in full.
So what was the outcome of this hearing? Thanks to excellent representation by our barrister, the Justice removed the fast-tracking; the case is now scheduled for late August, at which time we intend to defend our position vigorously. In the meantime we have agreed to remove the pages in question from our website until the case is heard.
There is still a long way to go. The case is significant and a lot is at stake – not just for us but for anyone who accesses and wants to continue to access information on vaccines and healthcare from an alternative viewpoint.
When our case reaches court in August, the following questions will be asked:
- Were our statements about the efficacy of the whooping cough vaccine correct; and
- Is there evidence to show that homeopathy can treat and prevent whooping cough?
You may be wondering if the repercussions of this case will extend beyond Homeopathy Plus, my husband and myself. You may also wonder if a precedent will be set that not only affects the practice of homeopathy in Australia but also the practice and supply of information by many other complementary and alternative therapies. And, like others, you may be asking, “Is it fair for someone to be prosecuted by a government agency just for questioning certain aspects of government health policy and offering an alternative view?”
We have received advice that the right to publicly question government information about vaccines and provide alternative information on homeopathy will be a central issue in this case (i.e. the extent of those rights and when they can be censored) so obviously, important issues are at stake.
We cannot say more at this time about the details of the case, but we hope this has gone some way to explaining its significance. We need your support and are asking you to help in a number of important areas. –Fran Sheffield, Homeopathy Plus
Finally after several months of silence. Fran Sheffield has once again sent out another update confirming the date of November 18th and begging for donations. The Australian Vaccination Network passed on Fran’s letter to their followers asking for $11,500.
I’m Fran Sheffield and I have an emergency.
On November 18 I will be in the Federal Court of Australia defending homeopathy against claims by the ACCC that it is a misleading and deceptive practice.
This all came about because of statements on our website saying homeopathy could be helpful in the treatment and prevention of whooping cough.
I also stated that the whooping cough vaccine was ineffective and dangerous – statements which I backed up with references to peer-reviewed articles and government data.
Surprisingly, the vaccine-related comments should be easy to defend as those statements were drawn from the mouths of government authorities – they were not just my thoughts.
The same should be true for the homeopathic statements but that isn’t the case.
We all know that homeopathy treats and prevents whooping cough – we have the historical records and accounts going back for over 100 years and we’ve seen it repeatedly in our clinics during the recent epidemic.
But because we as homeopaths and the organisations that represent us have chosen appeasement and conciliation in recent years rather than firm statements of what we know to be true, it will now make our defence in Court so much harder.
I urgently need your help. My fight is your fight and $11,500.00 has to be raised over the next week to fund our legal team’s final preparations.
If you are a homeopath, someone who uses homeopathy, or an allied alternative health practitioner I hope you will help as the outcome of this case will affect you.
If the ACCC is allowed to stop us sharing important homeopathic information that is in the public interest a precedent will be set that allows them to do the same with you – as a practitioner you can look to a future in which you will be limited in what you say, and as a user of alternative therapies you will be restricted in what you can hear.
As a result of endless complaints over the past 8 years by those hostile to homeopathy it was inescapable that this matter should end up in court.
Appeasement on our part was not an option as it would have produced the exact result we are now fighting to avoid, only earlier – their goal of having valuable homeopathic information withdrawn and suppressed would have been successful.
Instead of capitulating under the pressure we decided it was time to draw a line in the sand and say, enough is enough – this far and no further! The erosion of our rights as homeopaths and the rights of our patients has to stop. We hope you agree.
I realise that this is a difficult time for everyone but this is a serious situation that will affect you as well as me. It is important for each of us that a strong defence is mounted in this case. Can you see your way clear to donating $100 before the end of this week to ensure that happens? Can you donate the fee of your next consult? If $100 is too much, please consider giving what you can – any amount would truly be appreciated and will certainly make a difference. Contributions to the Fighting Fund can be made in one of the following ways:
They say “A fool and his money are soon parted.” so I’ve no doubt the AVN supporters will be successfully fleeced for the money. Although no amount of charity scams is going to allow these crooks to escape justice. These people think they’re invisible and above the law, as shown by Sheffield making the same claim (that Homeopathy treats Whooping Cough) that got her into so much trouble in the first place.
If these people where honest they would not be facing the wrath of the ACCC.