Consumer Health Digest #15-01

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 4, 2015


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.


"Autism specialist" disciplined. Anjum Usman, M.D. has been disciplined by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation for (a) failure to disclose her financial interest in a treatment she recommended (hyperbaric oxygen therapy), (b) compounding of medications that she prescribed to patients, (c) failure to keep adequate medical records, and (d) failure to obtain informed consent on certain treatments, including chelation therapy. The case involved her treatment of two autistic children with a long list of modalities that have no proven value for autism. The case was settled with a consent agreement under which Usman—without admitting or denying fault—was fined $10,000, placed on indefinite probation for a minimum of one year, and ordered to submit 10 charts quarterly to another physician for review. Casewatch has additional details and links to the relevant documents.


Study finds acupuncture ineffective for chronic knee pain. The study involved 282 patients aged 50 or over who were divided into groups that received needle acupuncture, laser acupuncture, sham laser acupuncture, or no treatment. The treated patients had 8 to 12 sessions over a 12-week period, and evaluations were done at 12 weeks and 1 year. The researchers concluded: "Among patients older than 50 years with moderate to severe chronic knee pain, neither laser nor needle acupuncture conferred benefit over sham for pain or function. Our findings do not support acupuncture for these patients." [Hinman RS and others. Acupuncture for chronic knee pain: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA 312:1313-1322, 2014]


British National Health Service agency dumps homeopathic hospital. The Nightingale Collaboration has reported that NHS Lanarkshire will cease referrals to Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital (a/k/a the Centre for Integrative Care) after March 30, 2015. The decision was based on a lengthy investigation which concluded that homeopathy, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, HeartMath, mistletoe for cancer symptoms, and other modalities featured at the facility have not been proven effective. Similar action was taken in 2010 by NHS Highland in 2010 and NHS Lothian in 2013. [NHS Lanarkshire to end referrals to Glasgow Homeopathic Hospital. Nightingale Collaboration Web site, Dec 9, 2014]


NCCAM renamed. Congress has changed the name of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The agency, a component of the National Institutes of Health, was initiated in 1991 as an office of unconventional medicine that became the Office of Alternative Medicine before its elevation to status as an NIH Center. Its currently stated mission is "to define, through rigorous scientific investigation, the usefulness and safety of complementary and integrative health approaches and their roles in improving health and health care." However, most of its research dollars have been wasted and its educational grants have established quackery-promoting facilities in many medical centers. [Gorski D. Congress polishes the turd that was NCCAM. Respectful Insolence Blog, Dec 18, 2014]


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This page was revised on January 4, 2015.