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Old 27th December 2005, 01:25 AM
Teresa Kramer
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Default Oscillo in the news

Below are some excerpts from the article referenced yesterday by Simon in
Newsbytes on Oscillo, in case you didn't follow (or didn't get) the link.
The article is pretty balanced with both for and against bits. And I was
wrong, on further thought, about the source of Oscillo being clearly labeled
on the Boiron box; it is in Latin, I think, probably not in English or
French. Teresa (in VA)

"Dr. Baratz of the National Council Against Health Fraud scoffs at Oscillo,
as do many other physicians, and attributes its success to the placebo
effect, an extraordinary ability of the mind to heal. "People who want to
believe they can get better with this drug can make themselves feel better,"
he said.

Oscillococcinum is considered a drug by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, but, like other homeopathic remedies, the FDA requires only
that it adhere to specific labeling standards.

"The FDA has never tested it because the FDA knows that water's safe," Dr.
Baratz said.

Oscillo was discovered early in the 20th century by Joseph Roy, a French
physician who believed that a bacterium that caused flu could be found in
the liver of a duck.

"Wild fowl are healthy carriers of the flu viruses," said Gould, Boiron's
spokeswoman, trying to explain the wisdom behind Oscillo. However, the
question remains whether that vaccine-like principle can work at the
colossal level of dilution when the original substance could be all but
gone.

Dr. Robert Schiller, chairman of the family medicine department at Beth
Israel Hospital in New York, who spent the last 20 years trying to integrate
homeopathy into primary care training, was philosophical. "There is always
this level of skepticism but, ultimately, either you believe it or you
don't," he said.
Oscillococcinum (pronounced o-sill-uh-COX-see-num) is a homeopathic flu
medicine that has hundreds of homeopathic practitioners and thousands of
patients as fans. Its active ingredient is anas barbariae hepatis et cordis
extractum, a substance made from the heart and liver of the Muscovy duck, a
lean domesticated breed that French cooks use to prepare duck breast.

Manufactured by one of Europe's largest homeopathic pharmaceutical
companies, Boiron, Oscillococcinum has been the No. 1 flu medicine in France
for over a decade and is now becoming a flu remedy of choice for thousands
of Americans. Mainstream pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid carry
the brand as well.

"We get one of this every week," said Vien, nodding at the portable stand
that sits right by his register and carries 24 packs of the medicine. "And
every week we are completely sold out."

In four clinical studies conducted by the drug's manufacturer, Oscillo, as
it's usually known, proved to be effective in reducing "both the duration
and severity of flu symptoms such as body aches, chills, pain and fever,"
said Alissa Gould, a spokeswoman for Boiron. "But the main benefit is that
it's very safe even for high-risk patients and children."

Oscillo is a favorite over-the-counter homeopathic medicine of Dr. Tony
Bark, who started a private homeopathic practice in Evanston, Ill., in 1995.
She has prescribed it to hundreds of patients at the first signs of flu.
"Typically it works for 30 to 40 percent of the patients," Dr. Bark said.
"Many people respond to it, but many people don't."

..

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the homeopathic drug. Oscillo is "nothing
but water," said Robert S. Baratz, a physician in Newton, Mass., and
president of the National Council Against Health Fraud. "Popularity does not
work in science; we work on facts," he said. "There is no scientific
evidence this drug works."

Such strong criticism arises from the fact that the active ingredient in
Oscillo is present in an infinitesimal amount - think molecules or less.
Homeopathic medicine is based on the principle that a disease can be cured
by administering micro doses of a drug that in massive amounts produces
symptoms in healthy individuals similar to those of the disease itself sort
of a "hair of the dog" cure. It relies on a controversial practice of
diluting the drug so heavily that little of the active ingredient remains.

The process of making Oscillo consists of multiple dilutions and shakes,
said Christophe Merville, Boiron's pharmaceuticals development manager.
First, the original substance derived from heart and liver of a duck is
diluted with water at a ratio of 1 to 100, giving it what's called 1CK
potency. After a good shake that solution is diluted once again at the same
ratio, turning it into 2CK, which means one unit of the original substance
has been mixed with 10,000 units of water.

The process is repeated until the solution reaches the potency of 200CK,
said Merville. Drops of that solution are then added to sugar pellets that
are dispensed into vials, about 200 pellets per vial. The vials are packaged
into boxes, usually six in a box, and sold at pharmacies and health food
stores around the world. "What is controversial is that at some point there
is very little of the original substance left," Merville said. "But still,
it has proven to be effective."

"We don't exactly know how it works," said Merville.


..Dr. Baratz of the National Council Against Health Fraud scoffs at Oscillo,
as do many other physicians, and attributes its success to the placebo
effect, an extraordinary ability of the mind to heal. "People who want to
believe they can get better with this drug can make themselves feel better,"
he said.

Oscillococcinum is considered a drug by the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, but, like other homeopathic remedies, the FDA requires only
that it adhere to specific labeling standards.

"The FDA has never tested it because the FDA knows that water's safe," Dr.
Baratz said.

Oscillo was discovered early in the 20th century by Joseph Roy, a French
physician who believed that a bacterium that caused flu could be found in
the liver of a duck.

"Wild fowl are healthy carriers of the flu viruses," said Gould, Boiron's
spokeswoman, trying to explain the wisdom behind Oscillo. However, the
question remains whether that vaccine-like principle can work at the
colossal level of dilution when the original substance could be all but
gone.

Dr. Robert Schiller, chairman of the family medicine department at Beth
Israel Hospital in New York, who spent the last 20 years trying to integrate
homeopathy into primary care training, was philosophical. "There is always
this level of skepticism but, ultimately, either you believe it or you
don't," he said.

End quote.

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