Consumer Health Digest #01-35
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 27, 2001
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.
Enzyme pill marketers sued for false advertising. The National Council Against Health Fraud is suing Media Power, of Portland, Maine, and Michael Pincus, D.C., a California chiropractor, of violating California laws against false advertising. The suit charges that advertising for an enzyme pill called Nu-Zymes falsely represents that:
- Many Americans suffer from "enzyme deficiency" that can be corrected by taking Nu-Zymes.
- The American diet is generally enzyme-deficient because most of the food we consume has been cooked or processed.
- Lack of enzymes in food strains the human body.
- Enzyme deficiency causes heart disease, joint pain, obesity, and many other health problems that Nu-Zymes can correct.
California laws permit any person or organization to sue to enjoin the fraudulent activities either located in California or affecting the state's consumers. Plaintiffs can also seek restitution for past misrepresentations, disgorgement of any undue profit the offender has earned, and reimbursement for the cost of the prosecution. Additional information about the lawsuit is available on Quackwatch.
Update on Bolen-related libel suits. Quackwatch has posted a detailed analysis of the campaign to libel Dr. Stephen Barrett and others who have justifiably criticized Hulda Clark, an unlicensed naturopath who wrote Cure for All Cancers. The campaign, which began in November 1999, was initiated by Clark's "publicist" Patrick T. ("Tim") Bolen. Dr. Barrett and three others have filed a total of four suits against Bolen and others who have republished his libelous messages. Clark's publishing company has responded with a groundless suit accusing Barrett, the National Council Against Health Fraud, and more than 30 other defendants of committing at least 12 types of crimes and about 20 other civil wrongs.
Liverite marketers ordered to stop improper claims. Liverite, Inc., of Tustin, California, Corinne and Steven Jacobson, and James and Sheri Grant, have agreed to settle FTC charges that they made unsubstantiated claims in Internet, radio, and print ads that their herbal products were effective against liver diseases, hangovers, and many other health problems. Under the agreement, the Jacobsons and the company will pay $60,000 in redress, and all of the defendants will be prohibited from claiming making unsubstantiated claims that any product cures or prevents any disease or disorder. The FTC's complaint indicated that Liverite's Web pages used metatags so that people searching for information about AIDS, hepatitis A, B & C, liver problems, liver disease, liver detoxification, alcohol, hangover, cirrhosis, anabolic steroids, interferon, and hepatotoxicity would be more likely to go to defendants' sites. [Marketer of dietary supplement purporting to treat liver diseases agrees to settle FTC charges: Must have adequate scientific evidence in the future. FTC news release, Aug 21, 2001]
American Metabolic Institute's Tijuana clinic raided again. On August 17, Mexican authorities raided the Tijuana clinic operated by American Metabolic Institute's after it had twice defied a government order to stop treating patients. According to a report in the San Diego Union-Tribune, state health officials discovered that instead of closing, the clinic had illegally shifted operations to a Tijuana hotel. [Crabtree P. Tijuana alternative cancer clinic raided, closed by health officials. San Diego Union Tribune, Aug 18, 2001.]
"Natural medicine" educator sentenced to prison. Peter Sherwood, proprietor of the Australian College of Natural Medicine, has been sentenced to four years in prison for failing to declare approximately $850,000 of income in his business tax returns between 1995 and 1998. The fraud was uncovered during an investigation into organized tax fraud by the Tax Office and the National Crime Authority, The Court was told Sherwood deposited payments into several bank accounts in another person's name. [Jail for cash economy tax fraud. News release, Australian Taxation Office, Aug 3, 2001]
Varro Tyler, noted herbal educator, dead at 74. Varro E. Tyler, PhD, former dean, professor of pharmacognosy, and executive vice president for academic affairs at Purdue University, died on August 22. A leading authority on herbal medicine, he played a major role in helping to popularize the use of herbal products in the United States. His best known books were The Honest Herbal, an evaluation of popular herbs, and the textbook Pharmacognosy.
Third anti-Ritalin suit withdrawn. Plaintiffs have withdrawn a spurious class-action suit filed in Florida against the American Psychiatric Association, the patient-support group Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), and Ritalin's manufacturer (Novartis). The suit charged that the defendants had illegally conspired to promote the drug for treating children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Similar suits were dismissed earlier this year in California and Texas, but two others are pending in New Jersey and Puerto Rico. [Florida becomes third state to witness end of Ritalin suit. American Psychiatric News, Aug 17, 2001]
This page was posted on August 27, 2001.