Mar. 13, 2015
The e-newsletter of the Canadian Consumers Centre for Homeopathy
Special Edition

After almost three years of legal wrangling, the class action suit instigated by the anti-homeopathy organization Centre for Inquiry (CFI) against Boiron Canada in Quebec has been dismissed. Another similar suit in Ontario is still in process, but its chances of succeeding now seem much more remote.


Boiron, Canada 's largest manufacturer of homeopathic medicines, was served with papers in April of 2012 after Adanna Charles of West Montreal and her son took doses of Boiron's Oscillo products for flu and allegedly noticed no relief. According to her story, she decided to launch the suit after learning via the Internet that Boiron had settled a US class action suit earlier, and a friend recommended a class-action lawyer.


But CFI at first made no secret of its heavy involvement with the lawsuit, sending out a press release which it later removed from its Canadian website, and sending out calls for people to join the class action. (See here for an article on its American website.)

According to Iain Martell, then head of CFI's anti-homeopathy division, its strategy was to legally attack the largest homeo-pharmacy along with the largest drugstore selling Oscillo products (Shoppers Drug Mart, in a separate suit) so as to make an example of them, as part of a contemplated campaign of successive lawsuits.


"If we win with this case, that sets an example for everyone else," Martell wrote in a comment on the website of the Canadian Atheist. "A hefty fine against Boiron might lead other snake oil producers to be more careful in their labelling. And so on... until the next lawsuit."  The comment was subsequently deleted, but not before 3CH took a screen capture of it.

In the Quebec Superior Court decision handed down on Jan. 19, judge Louis Lacoursi�re completely rejected as evidence three opinion pieces by anti-homeopathy authors (including McGill University's Joe Schwarcz) or in anti-homeopathy publications. He wrote: 


"Again, the Court is reluctant to hold that there is an arguable case to be made that Oscillo products have no effect on the symptoms of flu sufferers strictly on the basis of these articles alone, notably because of the fact that Oscillo products have successfully met the requirements of Health Canada, have been approved for sale and, also, because these articles seem, at first glance, to be all out attacks on homeopathy."


The judge also rejected Adanna Charles as a suitable representative for other people who supposedly suffered damages from buying Oscillo products, because she did nothing about the supposed problem until she spotted the article about the American lawsuit about six months later.


In this instance, there is no allegation that Petitioner communicated with Boiron, complained, asked questions.  There is no allegation that she attempted to find people who had used the Oscillo products and were dissatisfied.  What seems, prima facie, to be the real trigger of the recourse is the lawyer-induced opportunity to obtain a settlement in Canada, because one was achieved in the U.S. against Boiron U.S.A., based, prima facie, on different circumstances, including the representations by Boiron U.S.A. on the presence of an "active ingredient"."


For these and other reasons, Judge Lacoursi�re dismissed the suit and
awarded Boiron costs, meaning that Charles and/or any supporters she might have, if they are willing, will have to pay a substantial amount of Boiron's hefty legal bill.

Boiron is staying low-key about the decision, but others in the homeopathic community are celebrating it as a major victory for homeopathy in Canada.  


Karen Wehrstein, 

Media Co-ordinator, 3CH