Consumer Health Digest #07-25
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 3, 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.
Mannatech sued by Texas Attorney General. Mannatech, Inc., its owner, Samuel L. Caster, and several related entities have been charged with carrying out an illegal marketing scheme that encourages consumers to believe that its products are effective against many serious diseases. According to the complaint:
- Mannatech claims scientific validation from the field of glycoscience, which is the legitimate study of the structure and function of sugars.
- Mannatech claims that its proprietary products’ main ingredients, glyconutrients, enhance the body’s cell-to-cell communication and improve overall health.
- The company encourages the use of testimonials and various sales aids to suggest that the products dramatically cure or treat serious illnesses.
- In fact, the company’s health claims are not supported by legitimate scientific studies.
The defendants are accused of violating the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act, which provides civil penalties of $20,000 per violation and the Texas Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, which can trigger penalties of up to $25,000 per day per violation. [Texas Attorney General charges Mannatech with unlawful, misleading sales practices: Illegal scheme markets supplements as cure for cancer, improved health. Texas Attorney General news release, July 5, 2007]
California anti-diploma-mill law expires. The 1989 California law enacted to protect students from "diploma mills" and other nonaccredited schools has expired. The state Bureau for Private Postsecondary and Vocational Education, which had jurisdiction over more than 1,600 for-profit schools has been shut down at least temporarily. Legislators who care about consumer protection are working toward temporary restoration, but it is not clear whether they will succeed. [Weinstein T. Stopgap school reform sought: A law targeting 'diploma mills' expires, leaving legislators grappling with how best to protect students. Los Angeles Times, July 2, 2007]
Prominent skeptic dies. Barry L. Beyerstein, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, was felled last week by a heart attack at age 60. He was a fellow and member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's executive council, author of many skeptical articles and books, a founding member of Canadians for Rational Health Policy, and a contributing editor to the Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. His areas of interest and expertise included graphology, naturopathy (his father was a naturopath), alleged psychic powers, critical thinking, and why people believe false things. Colleagues regarded him as a "tireless defender of science."
This page was posted on July 5, 2007.