Communications Best Practices: Anticipating Questions

By Alissa Gould, public relations manager, Boiron USA
July 1, 2017

Since April 2017, AAHP has offered a series of articles on good communication practices that can be applied to conversations with retailers, doctors, regulators, or reporters. You are surely aware of typical questions on homeopathy, but this gives you an advantage to be prepared. Keep answers on controversial topics simple and brief, then steer the conversation back to your key messages by using “bridging techniques.”

Anticipated Questions:

What are homeopathic medicines?
“Homeopathy is a 200-year-old European system of medicine. Its active ingredients are highly diluted plants, animals, and minerals that relieve the same symptoms they cause at full strength. For example, a microdose of a coffee bean helps nervousness.”

After delivering this simple and brief explanation, bridge to a subject that you want to talk about. For example, “It’s because these active ingredients are so diluted that homeopathic medicines are one of the safest classes of drug.”

How do homeopathic medicines work?
“The body has shown it knows how to help itself when trying to get over many self-limiting conditions — or minor everyday conditions for which we use over-the-counter drugs. Homeopathy is thought to help the body in this process rather than work against it by masking symptoms. For example, unlike a cough suppressant, homeopathic medicines for coughs help loosen chest congestion and make a cough more productive.”

Is there research that show the efficacy of homeopathic medicines?
“More than 200 years of successful use of these medicines throughout the world has provided a strong basis of proof for their safety and usefulness. The clinical effectiveness of homeopathic medicines has been demonstrated over that time via physicians’ experience and traditional clinical trials.” (Then bridge to a key message on consumer satisfaction and sales!) “It might interest you to know that here in the U.S., sales have increased primarily because of recommendations from friends and family rather than advertising. This illustrates strong consumer satisfaction.”

Have homeopathic medicines been tested for safety?
(Bridge to a key message on safety.) “A 2015 report from the American Association of Poison Control Centers showed that homeopathic medicine is one of the safest classes of drug. The number of exposure reports for homeopathic products is less than 1 percent of all pharmaceutical exposures reports of the organization in any given year. This is proportionally below the rate of the market share for homeopathic medicines. And these exposure reports to homeopathic medicines rarely result in adverse events.”

Are homeopathic medicines safe to use without consulting a physician?
“Homeopathic medicines can be used to relieve symptoms of a wide range of acute health conditions. These include self-treatable conditions such as allergies, coughs, colds, flu, stress, arthritis pain, muscle pain, teething, etc. They can also be used by trained physicians to relieve symptoms of more serious conditions and many chronic diseases.”

Are homeopathic medicines regulated?
“There is a well-established framework of guidelines, regulations, and quality standards enforced by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) through routine pharmaceutical manufacturing site inspections and surveillance on marketed products. The manufacturing and marketing of homeopathic medicines has been regulated by the FDA since 1938. Homeopathic medicines must be manufactured under FDA Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and labeling guidelines. FDA has published a specific guideline for manufacturing and marketing homeopathic medicines entitled “Conditions under which Homeopathic Medicines May be Marketed” (FDA CPG 7132.15).”

We encourage you to pass along these tips to others in your company and read the other articles in our series on good communications: preparing for important communications, developing key messages, and delivering messages.