Consumer Health Digest #07-11
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 13, 2007
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.
Managed care network excludes implausible methods. American Specialty Health, Inc. (ASH) has published detailed clinical practice guidelines for 81 "complementary" techniques and procedures, most of which are used mainly by chiropractors. The documents indicate:
- 68 of these methods would not be covered under the plan.
- 67 are classified as experimental or investigational.
- 48 are scientifically implausible.
- 11 are unsafe, either directly or indirectly.
- 53 would render the practitioner ineligible to participate in the network.
ASH administers benefit programs for 12.1 million members and affinity discount programs for over 80 million members. Its practitioner network includes more than 28,000 acupuncturists, chiropractors, dietitians, massage therapists, and naturopaths. A few of the reports are not sufficiently critical. However, the documents are remarkable because (a) many of the implausible practices—most notably applied kinesiology—are widely used, (b) chiropractic organizations almost never criticize them, and (c) managed care companies almost never use implausible practices as a criterion for excluding providers. [Barrett S. American Specialty Health Network excludes many "complementary" methods. Chirobase, March 15, 2007]
Medscape laments money wasted on implausible research. Medscape General Medicine is criticizing "the accumulation of useless information" about implausible methods in journals and databases. In a video editorial:
- Editor-in-Chief George D. Lundberg, M.D. states: "Money to fund medical research research is abundant, but it's not without limits. I'd like to think that an idea should not be preposterous when you start working on it."
- Editorial board member Wallace I. Sampson, M.D. states: "Plausibility depends on prior reliable observations, physical and chemical laws, pharmacological principles, and advocates' economic and legal misadventures. The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine spends $100 million/year on implausible research and training grants. In performing [randomized clinical trials] on implausible proposals, clinical research has taken a wrong turn and departed from rationality." [Sampson WI. Whatever happened to plausibility as the basis for clinical research and practice after EBM and CAM rushed in? Medscape General Medicine, Jan 26, 2007]
Seven indicted in alleged cancer treatment scam. A U.S. federal grand jury has charged Dr. Eduardo Lasalvia-Prisco and six others with selling a fake cancer treatment called Pharma Blood. The treatment, which cost approximately $8,000 to $12,900, was said to be a vaccine made from the patient's blood. The suspects were charged with conspiracy to defraud the FDA and electronic fraud for using the Internet to sell the product. They are also accused of using the mail to send one of the non-approved products from Puerto Rico to Miami. If convicted, they could receive 3 to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000. The indictment is posted on Casewatch. Several of the marketers are also facing a civil malpractice suit filed by the husband of one of their victims.
Chiropractor convicted of sex abuse surrenders license. John E. Ziegler, D.C., who was convicted last September of sexually abusing a female patient, has surrendered his New York state license to practice chiropractic. In 2005, four former patients accused him of inappropriately massaging their genitals during examinations. In the first case to be tried, Ziegler contended that the massage was intended to relax a ligament and was part of the "Logan basic technique." On February 22, 2007, he received concurrent sentences of six years probation for forcible touching and one year of probation for third-degree sexual abuse. The other three cases are pending. [Drumsta R. Chiropractor gets 6 years probation: Judge cites Ithaca man's low risk to reoffend, need for supervision. The Ithaca Journal, Feb 22, 2007]
This page was posted on March 14, 2007.