Consumer Health Digest #09-49
December 3, 2009
Current # of subscribers: 11,747
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by
Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D. 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.
Quackwatch and Dr. Barrett need your help in maintaining and
expanding their activities. If you haven't already done so, please
and send a contribution.
New antiquackery group forms.
Forty-two prominent professionals have created the Institute for
Science in Medicine (ISM), an international policy group that seeks
to promote science to ensure that healthcare is safe, effective, and
ISM sees an
ongoing threat in the growing number of fringe practitioners and
their medically dubious diagnoses and treatments. Part of it mission
is to alert the public and policy-makers to the dangers of ignoring
scientific validation of medical interventions. The group's first
public action is a plea against coverage of unscientific practices in
pending health reform bills. [Health care reform bills legitimize
quackery: New policy institute warns provisions open door to costly
substandard care. ISM press release, Nov 29, 2009] http://www.scienceinmedicine.org/press-releases/
Most of ISM's leaders operate Web sites and/or blogs.
Florida AG sues spinal decompression device marketers.
The Florida Attorney General's office has has accused Axiom
Worldwide, its president and CEO James J. Gibson, and its
vice-president Nicholas Exarhos of using false and misleading claims
to market their spinal decompression machines. http://www.casewatch.org/ag/fl/axiom/complaint.shtml
The complaint states:
**Axiom sold more than 1,000 of its DRX 9000 device systems to
practitioners, mostly chiropractors.
**The price ($95,000 or $125,000) included brochures and suggested
ads that contained false claims.
**Prospective buyers were told that the device has FDA approval,
which is untrue,
**Axiom falsely represented that scientific trials had demonstrated
an 86% success rate for treating degenerative disc disease, herniated
discs, sciatica and post-surgical pain.
Chiropractors were also led to falsely believe that Medicare and
private insurers would cover the treatment.
**Since March 2006, Florida's licensing authorities have disciplined
twelve chiropractors who used Axiom's misleading marketing materials.
The Attorney General's lawsuit suit seeks (a) an injunction barring
further deceptive practices, (b) restitution to consumers, and (c)
disgorgement to the State of Florida of all revenues that resulted
from "transactions with consumers, generated as a result of the
unconscionable, unfair and deceptive practices" identified in the
complaint. Other marketers of spinal decompression devices have made
similar claims, but this is the first major enforcement action. For
further information, see http://www.chirobase.org/06DD/vaxd/vaxd.html
Top spammers blasted.
Regulatory actions in the United States and New Zealand appear to
have broken up what the anti-spam organization Spamhaus called the
largest "spam gang" in the world. The perpetrators used the "Canadian
Healthcare" brand name and operated an affiliate program called
"Aftking." The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has announced:
**The gang generated billions of e-mail messages to deceptively
market male-enhancement pills, prescription drugs, and weight-loss
**Ringleader Lance Atkinson, a New Zealand citizen and Australian
resident, has admitted his involvement to New Zealand authorities and
paid more than $80,000 (nearly $108,000 New Zealand dollars). A U.S.
federal judge has ordered Atkinson and his company Inet Ventures Pty
Ltd.to pay $15.15 million and three corporate defendants--Tango Pay,
Click Fusion, and Two Bucks Trading--to pay a total of $3.77 million.
**To settle FTC charges, Atkinson's accomplice, U.S. resident Jody
Smith, has agreed to pay approximately $212,000 and assign any rights
he has to more than $600,000 held in frozen bank accounts. In August
2009, Smith pled guilty to a criminal charge of conspiracy to traffic
counterfeit goods. He is scheduled for sentencing this month.
**In a related development, Atkinson's brother, Shane Atkinson, and
another New Zealander will pay nearly $112,000 ($150,000 New Zealand
dollars) for their part of the scam.
[Court orders Australia-based leader of international spam network to
pay $15.15 million: U.S. co-defendant forfeits more than $800,000 and
faces jail time. FTC news release, Nov 30, 2009] http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/11/herbalkings.shtm
Two doctors ordered to stop administering IV hydrogen peroxide treatment.
The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine has reprimanded
Kenneth B. Boyd, M.D. and Paul H. Cochrane, D.O. for administering
intravenous hydrogen peroxide to patients without proper informed
consent. Each was also fined $3,000 and from any further involvement
in the administration of intravenous hydrogen peroxide. Intravenous
hydrogen peroxide lacks FDA approval and has no proven value. In
1997, the Board fined Cochrane $5,000 for failing to report that he
had pleaded "no contest" to a criminal charge of practicing optometry
without a license. The board orders ate posted at http://www.casewatch.org/board/med/boyd.pdf
Other issues of the Digest are accessible through http://www.ncahf.org/digest09/index.html
. If you enjoy the
newsletter, please recommend it to your friends.