Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is facing a lawsuit for allegedly engaging in deceptive marketing practices surrounding its homeopathic products.
The lawsuit was filed by a non-profit organization called the Center for Inquiry. The organization filed a similar lawsuit against CVS last year.
The complaint alleges that Walmart labels and promotes homeopathic products as actual medicines. The retailer sells a variety of homeopathic products online and in stores, including those from its own Equate brand.
The lawsuit alleges that Walmart “uses marketing, labeling, and product placement to falsely present homeopathic products as equivalent alternatives to science-based medicines, and to represent homeopathic products as effective treatments for specific diseases and symptoms.”
CFI’s vice president, Nicholas Little, and general counsel pointed to the fact that Walmart sells homeopathic products alongside real medicines.
A Walmart spokesperson said in a statement, “We want to be the most trusted retailer, and we look to our suppliers to provide products that meet all applicable laws, including labeling laws. Our Equate private label homeopathic products are designed to include information directly stating that the claims are not based on accepted medical evidence and have not been evaluated by the FDA.”
Homeopathy is a medical system that uses plants, minerals, animals. It is based on the idea that the body can heal itself using these natural substances, but the science behind homeopathic medicine is still lacking.
CFI claims that Walmart knowingly presented homeopathic products, such as stress and cold and flu remedies, as equal alternatives to actual medicines. The organization isn’t necessarily seeking to have the products pulled from the shelves, but rather, to have Walmart provide honest labels for customers.
“It’s a legal product,” Little said. “It can be sold. But we also are far more concerned that the person isn’t looking for a homeopathic product, just wants their sick kid to feel better, actually doesn’t buy one of these products by mistake.”