Consumer Health Digest #09-15
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 9, 2009
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.
Kurt Donsbach arrested again. Kurt Donsbach, 73, whose dubious health-related activities have spanned more than 50 years, is facing 11 felony counts including treating patients without a license, misbranding drugs for sale, grand theft, unlawfully dispensing drugs as a cure for cancer, and falsely representing a cure for cancer. The declaration in support of his arrest warrant states:
- In literature and his weekly online radio broadcast, Donsbach identified himself as a chiropractor and a naturopathic doctor. He has no license to practice any health profession in the United States.
- In 2001, Donsbach’s Mexican clinic advised one patient to inject herself with “neuropeptides” to treat arthritis, saying it would “re-program” her body’s T-cells. FDA tests revealed the “neuropeptide” contained a steroid not disclosed on the packaging or labels. The patient paid thousands of dollars for the drugs and injected herself for six years, leading to severe bone-density loss.
- Donsbach advertised that he had a 60% success rate with pancreatic cancer and sold an undercover agent a home treatment protocol that included a product that contained nimesulide, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory not approved by the FDA. Marketing of the product (Leppin Miradin, a/k/a Fortodol) has been suspended in Sweden because of high rates of liver failure that resulted in deaths and liver transplants.
The investigation leading to Donsbach's arrest was was conducted by the FBI, the the FDA, and the San Diego District Attorney's Office. Quackwatch has a detailed report on Donsbach's shady history.
Three British universities stop issuing "CAM" degrees. Three British universities have stopped or suspended degree programs in "complementary and alternative medicine." One said that the courses were not a good academic fit and the others attributed the their decision to low enrollment:
- In January, the University of Salford announced that it would drop its undergraduate degrees in acupuncture and complementary medicine because it no longer considered them "an academic fit." More than 70 students were registered in its BSc. Chinese medicine course. [Newman M. Salford to shut complementary medicine BSc. Times Higher Education, Jan 15, 2009]
- Westminster, the largest provider of CAM degrees in the UK, suspended its BSc programs in homeopathy and in remedial massage and neuromuscular therapy. It had attracted only 14 full-time-equivalent students last year. Westminster's School of Integrated Health, which ran the courses, will merge with the School of Biosciences. The university had already announced it was overhauling its BSc degrees in CAM to boost their scientific content.
- The University of Central Lancaster has stopped enrollment for its degree programs in herbal, homeopathic and complementary medicine because it had not met its target to recruit 20 students per program since 2005. Students already enrolled will be able to complete their degrees. [Corbin Z. Recruitment problems kill off CAM courses. Times Higher Education, April 9, 2009]
All three universities will continue to offer some "CAM" courses in other programs.
Detox scams summarized. Quackwatch and it affiliated sites have information on many types of scams related to "detoxification." The products and procedures include "colon cleansing"; other powders and potions; colonic irrigation; "ionic cleansing"; "detox" foot pads; methods that increase sweating; unnecessary amalgam removal; chelation therapy; and the urine toxic metals test. All involve the use of misleading scare tactics. [Barrett S. "Detoxification" schemes and scams, Quackwatch, April 8, 2009]
This page was posted on April 10, 2009.