Consumer Health Digest #05-45

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 15, 2005


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, FDA warn "natural" hormone sellers. The Federal Trade Commission has sent warning letters to the operators of 34 Web sites that sell "natural" alternatives to hormone replacement therapy. [FTC warns Web sites peddling hormone replacement therapy alternatives to review their claims. FTC news release, Nov 10, 2005] The letters stated that the FTC is not aware of any reliable scientific evidence to support the claims that such products (a) prevent, treat, or cure cancer, heart disease, or other diseases or (b) prevent osteoporosis (bone loss) or increase bone density. Simultaneously, the FDA notified the following sellers that their claims were illegal: All Natural Pain Relief Inc.; Bio-Health; BuyInnovations.com; CHS International Research Ltd.; ComCore 21 Corporation; Greatest Herbs on Earth; HMS Crown, Inc.; Healthworks 2000; Healthy Days, Inc.; Heba™ Laboratories, LLC; Herbal Fields Supplements; Nutriteam, Inc.; One Life USA; Suzanne's Natural Foods; and The Way Up; Tip Top Vitamins. [FDA issues warning letters to marketers of unapproved 'alternative hormone therapies.' FDA news release, Nov 10, 2005] The FTC has not identified the companies that received its warnings.


Berkeley manager indicted. Steven Pugh, who managed a Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals warehouse, has been indicted for obstruction of justice. The company is best known for its television commercial in which "Smiling Bob" touts Enzyte pills for "natural male enhancement." The indictment accused Pugh with receiving or hiding a substantial quantity of Rovicid from FDA inspectors in May 2004. [McNair J. Berkeley manager indicted on felony: Obstruction charge claims he hid product. Cincinnati Enquirer, Sept 25, 2005] Earlier this year, Berkeley was raided by federal officials who searched three of its Cincinnati-area offices and froze one of its bank accounts. [McNair J. Feds raid maker of Enzyte: Accounts frozen at 'male-enhancement' pill company. Cincinnati Enquirer, March 17, 2005] Rovicid is a vitamin/herbal concoction claimed to promote better heart health.


Mesotherapy causes severe skin infections. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported an outbreak of severe skin infections among people who received mesotherapy administered by an unlicensed practitioner. [Outbreak of mesotherapy-associated skin reactions: District of Columbia Area, January-February 2005. Mortality & Morbidity Weekly Report 54:1127-1130, 2005] Mesotherapy involves local subcutaneous injections of minute quantities of various substances (e.g., vitamins or plant extracts) for cosmetic purposes (e.g., fat and wrinkle reduction or body contouring) or relief of musculoskeletal pain. Several months ago the American Society of Plastic Surgeons warned that mesotherapy had not been proven safe and effective. [Mesotherapy not proven as a safe alternative to liposuction: Plastic Surgeons warn against unknown dangers. ASPS news release, April 18, 2005]


Dietitians update fluoridation endorsement. The American Dietetic Association has updated its longstanding position statement on fluoride and health. The statement concludes: " Dietetics professionals should routinely monitor and promote the use of systemic and topical fluorides, especially in children and adolescents. The American Dietetic Association strongly reaffirms its endorsement of the appropriate use of systemic and topical fluorides, including water fluoridation, at appropriate levels as an important public health measure throughout the life span." [Palmer C and others. Position of the American Dietetic Association: the impact of fluoride on health. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 105:1620-1628, 2005]


Recidivist con man fined again. Peter Foster, an Australian who probably holds the world record for the number of diet-pill-related criminal convictions, has been ordered to pay $150,000 as part of a $1 million settlement in yet another scheme. Diet Scam Watch has a detailed report about his activities.


Doctor who facilitated dubious cancer treatment surrenders license. Lois March, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat specialist who practices in Cotrell, Georgia, has surrendered her medical license to settle charges that she improperly helped Dan Raber, an unlicensed person who treated patients for cancer. Georgia’s Composite Board of Medical Examiners had accused March of providing pain management to several patients whom Raber treated with a bloodroot paste, including one man whose flesh was eaten so badly from his shoulder that the bone was exposed. The board's accusation is posted on Casewatch. Press reports indicate that the FDA raided Raber's farm earlier this year.


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