Skepfeeds-The Best Skeptical blogs of the day

Quacking Like a Duck

Posted in JREF by Skepdude on May 7, 2009

One of the oft heard complaints about modern medicine is that it’s dominated by “big pharma,” that is greedy, soulless corporations who lie to us and suppress less expensive and more effective treatments for monetary gain. While it’s true that corporations are out for monetary gain, and there have been irregularities as with any big business, let’s take a look at the pot that’s calling the kettle greedy here.

Consider a single product: Oscillococcinum.

Their site never actually says that the “FDA regulated drug” does anything… really, read carefully. It doesn’t. They do claim it is a “Flu Medicine.” And they claim studies have shown its effectiveness in reducing flu symptoms. We’ll save examining the studies for another time, for the purpose of this article, let’s focus on the ingredients.

Pharmaceuticals such as Tamiflu and Zithromax are tested for years before they’re released to the public. Teams of chemists, lawyers, doctors, nurses, clinical researches, and study subjects go over every conceivable side effect or quality control issue before the drug is released to the market. These procedures cost an incredibly large amount of money, and while it may, in fact, be ridiculous to charge $5 for a pill, there is at least some basis for them being expensive. Part of that basis, is that they have active ingredients.

Not so for Oscilloccinum.

Each capsule is 1mg, and it contains a 200X preparation of muscovy duck heart and liver, .15mg of lactose (milk sugar), and .85mg of sucrose (table sugar). For those unwilling to do math, the sugars add up to 1g. Er.. where’s the duck liver? Well, a 200x preparation of anything is past Avogadro’s limit. It’s chemically impossible for there to be even one molecule of duck liver in an Oscilloccinum capsule. That means… there is exactly no duck liver in it. In fact, it’s a capsule of sugar, more suited for sweetening tea than reducing your flu symptoms. The tea might help though.

READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY AT “RANDI.ORG”

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2 Responses

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  1. brian said, on May 7, 2009 at 2:17 PM

    The funny thing is that the 200X dilution is not just past the Avogadro limit, in fact it means a 1/ 10^200 ratio, while there are about 10^80 atoms in the whole universe!

  2. brian said, on May 7, 2009 at 2:19 PM

    And it’s actually 200C, which means 400X: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeopathy#Dilution_and_succussion


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