Homeopathy pharmaceuticals against freedom of expression?

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Pharma against freedom of expression? Boiron's homemade PR crisis

In July this year, the Italian blogger Samuele Riva published critical articles on homeopathy in two articles on his blog (www.blogzero.it). In the articles entitled "Homeopathy - Myths and Legends", Riva reported that the French company Boiron, the world's largest manufacturer of homeopathic medicines, markets a preparation called oscillococcinum® for flu that does not contain a pharmacologically active molecule of the mother tincture. Basically, this is nothing new - this is the case with all homeopathic medicines with a potency of D23 or higher. An illustration of the product was given the subtitle by Riva: "Seriously hurts the intelligence of those who buy it." Not unusual for bloggers, Riva adorned his statements with "striking" wording and the false factual claim that there is no scientific evidence for the effectiveness of the Give homeopathy. Boiron threatened the blogger with a defamation lawsuit after attempting a personal conversation.

As a response, Boiron got to deal with a fundamentally positive phenomenon of the digital information age: content on the Internet that is supposed to be legally suppressed is spreading rapidly and subsequently attracting a lot of attention (the so-called Streisand effect). Before the lawsuit was threatened, about 150 users called up Riva's texts. After the threat became public, other blogs in different languages ​​first reported on the case, followed by the British Medical Journal and Handelsblatt Online. In doing so, Riva only did what some bloggers occasionally do: he presented homeopathy from the perspective of a layperson, who rubs against its lack of plausibility - especially the potentiation - without having knowledge of the study situation or methodological expertise.

The network resonance in the tenor of "pharmaceutical company suppresses freedom of expression" may have caused Boiron considerable and homemade damage to its image. Homeopathic critics used the case systematically to create an online mood against homeopathy. Even if Boiron wrote in a recent statement: “We are not opposed to freedom of speech. We just want to say to you that we never expected such reactions and felt really sorry about that. ”The fact that the drug manufacturer did not anticipate this criticism speaks for poor press and public relations work that does not take into account the high quality of freedom of expression and underestimated the network dynamics. "A dialogue is always better than a legal confrontation," says Cornelia Bajic, 1st chair of the German Central Association of Homeopathic Doctors (DZVhÄ). For this purpose, the DZVhÄ created, for example, the homeopathy blog (www.dzvhae-homoeopathie-blog.de). "We invite Boiron and Samuele Riva to have a constructive discussion on the topic on our science blog," said Bajic. (DZVhÄ)

Picture: Günther Gumhold / pixelio.de

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