I read a very sad article today about the Health Canada process for approving medicine. A show called Marketplace made up a new medicine called Nighton (anagram for nothing) which had no active ingredient. They sent in some photocopies of old texts and got it approved for sale in Canada. No testing of efficacy or indeed any kind of plausible pretext of how their product even could be effective was necessary.
This sort of thing drives me up the wall. Somehow the government regulatory body has been tricked into thinking that their job is to rubber stamp anything that comes across their desk because not approving it risks making somebody upset. People out there want their sugar pills dammit, and they want them stocked right next to the medicine instead of in the candy aisle where they belong! It isn't simply about proving that a product doesn't kill people because that isn't good enough. All you accomplish by letting 'harmless' products through the process is to have people take those products instead of actual medicine and that is demonstrably harmful. Products that get regulatory approval should have to prove both efficacy and lack of harm.
Not to say we should outlaw homeopathic remedies. They are useless but if people want to make them they should be allowed to do so. However, they absolutely should not be regulated as medicine nor given any sort of government approval any more than one teaspoon of castor oil at bedtime should be. You want to take your fancy placebo? Fine! But it should not be sold in the drugstore next to the stuff that actually works and the government should have no part in convincing people that it is a valid alternative. Let us create an environment where a clueless person looking for medicine can easily figure out what stuff has been found to work and which stuff is snake oil.