Consumer Health Digest #17-29

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 23, 2017


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. Its primary focus is on health, but occasionally it includes non-health scams and practical tips.


France to mandate vaccinations. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has said it is "unacceptable" that children are "still dying of measles" in the country where some of the earliest vaccines were pioneered. Three childhood vaccines, for diphtheria, tetanus and polio, are currently required in France. Eight more, including measles and whooping cough, will be required by 2018. To fight against smoking, Philippe also announced that the price of pack of cigarettes will be go up from 7 to 10 euros. [Forster K. France to make vaccination mandatory from 2018 as it is 'unacceptable children are still dying of measles.' Move follows similar initiative in Italy, where non-vaccinated children cannot attend state schools. The Independent, July 5, 2017]


NHS to stop paying for homeopathy, certain supplements, and many OTC drugs. NHS England has announced plans to stop paying for prescriptions for treatments that it considers "ineffective, over-priced and low value." A formal public consultation has been launched on proposed guidelines. [Items which should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: A Consultation on guidance for CCGs. NHS England, July 21, 2017] The list includes homeopathic products, glucosamine, chondroitin, herbal products, lutein, certain antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids (some uses), gluten-free foods, and more than 3,200 nonprescription drugs. [NHS England launches action plan to drive out wasteful and ineffective drug prescriptions, saving NHS over £190 million a year. NHS England news release, July 21, 2017] Public comments are welcome until October 21.


Indian TV stations warned about misleading ads. The Indian Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has notified all television channels in India to stop broadcasting misleading ads for ayurvedic, siddha, unani and homeopathic (AYUSH) drugs. [Indian Ministry of Information and Broadcasting advisory, July 12, 2017] The notice said:

Whereas Ministry of AYUSH has informed this Ministry that some channels carry advertisements with exaggerated or improper claims of Ayurvedic, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathic (AYUSH) drugs which mislead the consumers and pose potential health risk with self-medication. Miraculous solution of all health problems are offered by the self-proclaimed Doctors, Gurus, and Vaidhs in these advertisements/programmers. . . .

All TV channels are hereby advised to ensure strict compliance of provisions of Drug and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 and Drugs & Cosmetic Act, 1940 . . . . TV channels are advised to advertise only products that have valid license issued by M/o AYUSH or State Drug Licensing Authorities. Any failure will attract action as per provisions of the Rule.


Lawsuit against Dr. Barrett dismissed. The libel suit filed against Dr. Stephen Barrett in 2010 has been settled amicably. The parties have issued a joint press release that summarizes the outcome.


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This page was posted on July 23, 2017.