Consumer Health Digest #01-32
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 6, 2001
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
FTC drops chiropractic investigation. The FTC appears to have abandoned its effort to limit claims made by Koren Publications, a Philadelphia-based firm that sells subluxation-based pamphlets and other practice-building aids. [Feds drop Dr. Koren's case: First amendment rights of health care professionals were at stake. Dynamic Chiropractic, August 2001] The FTC itself has made no public statement, but fundraising appeals from company president Tedd Koren, D.C., and articles in chiropractic publications describe a six-year investigation that ended in July 2001. According to Koren, his case has led to formation of the Foundation for Health Choice, which will focus on health choice and privacy, "beginning with alerting the public to the significant dangers that accompany routine vaccination and what to do about them." Its first priority will be defending parents and practitioners who resist mandatory vaccination. The FTC does not discuss the details of its pending investigations with outsiders. However, it is safe to assume the case was dropped because the agency concluded that the brochures—which were filled with misleading claims, were educational material rather than advertising and thus were immune to federal regulation. Further information on the case is available on Chirobase.
FTC halts claims for "hyperactivity" product. Natural Organics, Inc., based in Melville, New York, and its president, Gerald Kessler, have agreed to settle FTC charges that they made unsubstantiated claims that their dietary supplement product Pedi-Active A.D.D was effective against Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) or its symptoms. The product had also been claimed to improve the attention span and scholastic performance of children who have difficulty focusing on school work. The proposed consent agreement prohibits the company from making unsubstantiated claims that Pedi-Active A.D.D. or any other food, drug, or dietary supplement could treat any childhood disease or mental disorder. [Natural Organics settles FTC Charges that they made unsubstantiated ADHD treatment claims. News release, July 31, 2001] Kessler helped lead the health-food industry's drive for passage of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, which opened the floodgates to false claims for dietary supplements.
American Metabolic Institute ordered to close clinic. The San Martin Clinic, of La Mesa, Mexico, which is advertised as the American Metabolic Institute, has been ordered to close by Mexican health officials. The San Diego Tribune has reported:
- The closure was ordered after government inspectors found that chicken livers and tissue from guinea pigs had been mixed with the human tissue of cancer patients in making injectable products used for treatment.
- Officials said that the doctor in charge of the clinic, Geronimo Rubio, could not provide research protocols for the treatments, as required by Mexico's federal health department.
- Since January, the state health department has closed about 20 clinics that offer "alternative" treatments for cancer to clients from the United States, England, Germany and Russia.
- Two of these—BioPulse and Century Nutrition (Hulda Clark's facility) have been allowed to reopen but have been forbidden to practice alternative medicine. Biopulse paid a $220,000 fine. Century Nutrition is contesting its $166,000 fine. [Sanchez EF, Crabtree P. Alternative Tijuana clinic shut down by Baja officials: Chicken livers reportedly used in cancer treatments. San Diego Tribune, July 27, 2001]
Top journal editors demand more independence for drug researchers. Editors at the New England Journal of Medicine, the Lancet, the Annals of Internal Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) plan to refuse to publish drug company-sponsored studies unless the researchers involved are guaranteed scientific independence. The editors, who plan to issue a joint editorial next month, said the new policy is a response to companies' hold over how research is done and, in many cases, over whether and how the results are made public. [Okie S. A stand for scientific independence: Medical journals aim to curtail drug companies' influence. Washington Post, Aug 5, 2001] The new policy is intended to deter companies from blocking publication of unfavorable results.
New FDA fact sheets. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has begun publishing one-page fact sheets about such issues as patient safety, medical devices, biomedical research, prescription drug use, and food safety. The first 12 "Just the Facts" documents are now posted on the agency's Web site.
This page was posted on August 6, 2001.