Exposure to the truth about the pseudoscience of homeopathy leads a large percentage of consumers to feel ripped off and deceived by the two largest drug retailers, Walmart and CVS, to whom they entrust their health and the health of their families.
The survey, conducted by Lake Research Partners for the Center for Inquiry and generously supported by the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, asked respondents about how they make their purchasing decisions for cough, cold, and flu remedies at Walmart and CVS and about their general knowledge of the basic principles of homeopathy, an eighteenth-century pseudoscience that has been utterly disproven, having no medical benefits beyond that of a placebo.
The Center for Inquiry is suing both Walmart and CVS in the District of Columbia for fraud over their deceptive sale of homeopathic products (SI, September/October 2019 and November/December 2018). Walmart and CVS sell homeopathic products alongside real, evidence-based medicine, both on store shelves and online, making no meaningful distinction between them. Nearly half of survey respondents said that they rely on their retailers to guide them to the remedies they need. Forty-six percent said they go to the aisle labeled for their condition (in this survey’s case, “cough, cold, and flu”), and 3 percent ask a store employee who is not a pharmacist.
Once respondents were told the essential facts about homeopathy’s pseudoscientific claims, 41 percent described their feelings about the purchase of a homeopathic remedy in deeply negative terms. Nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) used words such as “bad,” “terrible,” “horrified,” and “upset,” while 15 percent said they felt “ripped off,” “cheated,” “deceived,” “scammed,” or entitled to a refund. Three percent were made to feel “stupid” or “foolish.”
For details of the survey, announced September 17, see centerforinquiry.org. The Center for Inquiry and its Committee for Skeptical Inquiry publish the Skeptical Inquirer.