Consumer Health Digest #11-07

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 31, 2011


Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.


Supreme Court blocks end run around vaccine court. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld lower court rulings that people who claim they were injured by improperly designed vaccines must rely solely on the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) and may not sue manufacturers. The VICP is a federal program enacted in 1986 (and since amended) that was designed as a no-fault lternative to the tort system to deal with an epidemic of lawsuits that threatened the continued availability of childhood vaccines nationwide. Rather than suing a manufacture or provider through the civil tort system, claimants must petition for compensation with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. The case before the court—Bruesewitz v. Wyeth—was brought by the parents of Hannah Bruesewitz, who had received DPT vaccine as an infant in 1992 and subsequently developed seizures. The Bruesewitz's filed a VICP claim that was rejected on grounds that they failed to prove that the vaccine had caused the seizures. The Supreme Court's decision is posted to Casewatch.


IOM proposes standards for systematic reviews and practice guidelines. The Institute of Medicine has proposed standards for systematic literature reviews and the development of clinical practice guidelines. The reports were generated by concerns that poor quality reviews can lead practitioners to wrong conclusions and ultimately to inappropriate treatment decisions. Books that explain the guidelines can be read free of charge or ordered at discounted prices on the IOM Web site. [IOM recommends standards to achieve reliable clinical practice guidelines and high-quality systematic reviews of evidence. National Academies Press, News release, March 23, 2011]


2011 Pigasus Awards announced. The James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF has announced its 2011 Pigasus Awards, which have been given annually on April Fool's Day since 1997 to promoters of nonsense. This year's notables include:

The JREF Web site has additional details.


New book explodes MLM deceptions. Jon M. Taylor, M.B.A. Ph.D. has published THE CASE (FOR AND) AGAINST MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING: The Complete Guide to Understanding and Countering the Effects of Endless Chain Selling and Product-based Pyramid Schemes. The book's introduction states:

The 313-page eBook can be downloaded free of charge from MLM Watch. Taylor's Web site (MLM-The Truth.com) contains a wealth of additional information.


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This page was revised on April 3, 2011.