Boiron apologized to the threatened blogger

The CEO of Boiron Italy, Silvia Nencioni, wrote in reply to the e-mail sent by the Italian blogger Samuele Riva (he communicated the removal of the pictures of Oscillococcinum captioned in a sarcastic way) a long e-mail obliquely apologizing for the threatening tone and content of their letter and reassuring him that the company is satisfied of the removal and will not proceed to court.

Here is the piece I wrote for the BMJ on Aug 12, that contributed to spread the word all over the world wide web, and here are the text of Silvia Nencioni’s letter and an account I wrote for the website of the Italian Skeptics’ association CICAP, Queryonline (both in Italian).

The most read news on the BMJ this week: Boiron vs blog ;-)

I cannot hide my satisfaction: not only my piece about the Boiron letter is the most read item on the website of the BMJ this week, but it was even cited on Wikipedia!

BTW, I recapitulated the whole story on the website of Queryonline (CICAP, IN ITALIANO)

The English translation of the letter sent by Boiron threatening the Italian blogger

After the publication of my news piece on the British Medical Journal about the Italian blog threatened by Boiron Italy, that ignited an International Streisand effect, several colleagues all over the world wrote about the issue, and some asked for an English translation of the letter.

Here is an informal translation of the threatening letter sent by Boiron Italy to Italian blogger Samuele Riva (translated by Fabio Turone, as a service for the science writers’ community).

The letter signed by the CEO Silvia Nencioni was sent to the Internet provider, and threatened both the provider and the blogger of bringing them to court in case they did not comply immediately with their requests.

The language contains a lot of lawyer jargon, that I tried to simplify, saving the meaning: take everything with a grain of salt (and ask if I was not clear enough).

On the letterhead of Boiron Italy.

Subject: Web site «» – Libelous content – Intimation and request of removal

From the NIC (Network Information Center) it appears that you manage the domain «», registered on the name of Mr Samuele Riva.

On 13 July 2011, on the website appeared an article under the headline: «Homoeopathy: myth and legend», signed by «Samuele», libelous of homoeopathy and our Company.

In particular, in such article, announced as the first of a series, after expressing untrue and unfounded opinions on homoeopathy, appeared a photograph of two tubes of our medicine «Oscillococcinum» with the following caption: «The Nothing-at-all that according to Boiron treats flu… diluted 200K it doesn’t contain any molecule of active principle!».

Later, on 27 July 2011, another article is published under the headline «Homoeopathy: myth and legend (2)», signed by «Samuele», again libelous of homoeopathy and our medicine «Oscillococcinum».

In fact, under the picture of our medicine the following caption was published: «Seriously damages the intelligence (of those buying it)».

The article goes on citing our medicine and our Company and announcing a new article on the issue.

The publication over the Internet of such messages, untrue and derogatory of homoeopathy and our Company and our medicine seriously tarnishes the reputation of our Company, as described in the Article 595 of the penal code, and causes serious damages which could be recovered in a civil court.

You, being the manager of the blog through which those messages have been and continue to be diffused, are responsible for the control over the content, and hence you are co-responsible both from the penal and the civil point of view, of the defamation undercourse.

In the light of all that has been written, with this letter we intimate/order you – in your quality of manager and hence responsible subject for the domain – to remove immediately and, in any case, no later than 24 hours after receiving this letter all articles signed «Samuele», including every picture of our medicine and any and all references to our medicines and our company.


In addition, we warn you against any unauthorised use within your blog of pictures of our products and the logos of our Company.


We finally warn you to prevent Mr Samuele, author of the cited libelous articles, to access

Missing such acts/if you don’t comply we reserve the right of any further actions to defend our rights and interests.

With Regards

Laboratoires Boiron srl (Italian arm of Boiron)

The Chief Executive Officer

Dott.ssa Silvia Nencioni

When homoeopathy meets science journalism…


Homoeopathy multinational Boiron threatens amateur Italian blogger

Fabio Turone, Milan

A letter sent by the Italian arm of multinational company Boiron, threatening to sue an amateur blogger over remarks he made about homoeopathy, has sparked a strong internet reaction in defence of freedom of speech. Samuele Riva posted two articles on his blog, , on 13 and 27 July,which included pictures of Boiron’s blockbuster homoeopathic product Oscillococcinum, marketed as a remedy against flu symptoms. The pictures were accompanied by captions, which joked about the total absence of any active molecules in homoeopathic preparations. On 28 July Boiron fired off a letter to the internet provider, complaining that both the articles and the captions were “untrue and derogatory both of homeopathy and [the] company,” and responsible for tarnishing the company’s reputation and causing “serious damage”…

Mi fa piacere non solo di dare il mio sostegno a Samuele, ma anche di aver potuto citare la seguente frase di Piero Angela, che nel 2004 sconfisse in tribunale (sia in sede civile sia in sede penale) due associazioni di medici omeopati che pretendevano di avere a “Superquark” il diritto di replica: “The courts looked into the scientific evidence we provided, and stated that homoeopaths had no right of reply on public service TV, accepting my view that it is a science journalist’s duty to clearly distinguish between what is science and what is not”.

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