Consumer Health Digest #01-40

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 1, 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.

AAP issues new ADHD treatment guidelines. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released new recommendations today for treating school-age children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The guidelines include the use of behavioral therapy and/or stimulant drugs (such as Ritalin), provided that (a) the diagnosis is appropriately made, (b) the treatment has clearly defined goals, and (c) progress is carefully monitored. [AAP releases new guidelines for treatment attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder. AAP news release, Oct 1, 2001] Last year the AAP released guidelines for diagnosing ADHD.

"Cybertrapper" ordered to stop. In response to a complaint from the Federal Trade Commission, a federal judge has ordered John Zuccarini to stop luring Internet users to his site and holding them against their will while exposing them to to solicitations for gambling, psychics, lotteries, and pornography. According to the FTC, Zuccarini registered more than 5,500 domain names that are misspellings of legitimate names or that incorporate transposed or inverted words or phrases. Surfers who make such errors wind up on Zuccarini's sites, where they are bombarded with windows displaying ads for goods and services. A programming technique called "mousetrapping" then obstructs surfers' ability to close their browser or go back to the previous page. In some cases, the legitimate site to which the consumer was attempting to go is also launched, so that consumers may think the ads originate from a legitimate site. The FTC estimates that Zuccarini has earned between $800,000 and $1 million annually by charging advertisers whose banner ads and affiliate programs are included on his sites. FTC documents indicate that despite losing 53 lawsuits suits and having nearly 200 of his domain names transferred to the rightful trademark owner, celebrity, or company, he continued his practice of diverting and trapping consumers. [Cyberscam targeted by FTC: 5,500 copycat Web addresses capture computers and mousetrap surfers. FTC news release, Oct 1, 2001]

Supreme Court rules against Amway. The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with Procter & Gamble Co. (P&G), which has filed several suits charging Amway Corporation (now called Alticor Inc.) or its distributors with spreading rumors that P&G was linked to devil worship. Without commenting, the Court declined to review a lower court's decision that rumors spread to hurt a company are not entitled to free-speech protection. P&G alleges that Amway and several distributors spread baseless stories that P&G's former crescent-shaped "man in the moon" logo was linked to Satanism and (b) during a nationally televised interview, P&G's president had revealed an association with the Church of Satan. Amway argued that even though the rumor was false, spreading it was allowed as a matter of free speech. The complex legal battle, now six years old, will continue.

HHS provides more information on Medicare. Since October 1, customer service representatives at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) have been available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to respond to questions from Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers. The new service is part of a plan under which the Agency for Health Care Financing and Administration (HCFA) was renamed Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [CMS] and reorganized into three components:

Source: The new Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). HHS fact sheet, June 14, 2001.

Evidence based guidelines posted. The Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement (ICSI), a collaboration of health-care organizations sponsored by five Minnesota health plans, has developed nearly 100 guideline and technology assessment documents, many of which are online. Its diabetes guideline has been translated into a version for laypersons. Although the rest are intended for physicians, laypersons may find some of them useful. Most are scheduled for revision every 12 to 18 months.

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This page was posted on October 2, 2001.