Consumer Health Digest #01-43

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 22, 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.

AMA warns against unnecessary prescriptions for anthrax. The American Medical Association has cautioned against taking unnecessary doses of antibiotics or overusing them. In a message to physicians, it stated:

The AMA will provide frequent updates on the situation. Additional information on biologic terrorism is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Anthrax-related scams. Fraudulent marketers never seem to miss an opportunity to promote their wares. Public concern about anthrax has inspired many of them to urge people to stock up on antibiotics, particularly Cipro, which is quite expensive. As noted above, the AMA says there is no rational reason to do this. In addition, most anthrax strains are sensitive to penicillin and other antibiotics that are less expensive and have fewer side effects. Some marketers of colloidal silver, fulvic acid, and homeopathic products have also joined the fray with claims that these products are effective in preventing and/or treating anthrax infections.

Podiatrist's license revocation upheld. A California Superior Court judge has dissolved a temporary order staying the license revocation of Garey Lee Weber, DPM, former owner of the Doctor's Foot & Ankle Centers, a group practice with offices in three California cities. Foot doctor loses major battle with California board of podiatric medicine. News release, Oct 22, 2001] Weber obtained the stay in May 2001, after the California Board of Podiatric Medicine revoked his license to practice. Further details of the case are available on Quackwatch.

EPA launches smoke-free home campaign. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has launched the Smoke-Free Home Pledge Initiative, a program intended to motivate millions of parents to refrain from exposing their children to secondhand smoke from tobacco products. Environmental tobacco smoke has been linked to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and children who breathe secondhand smoke are more likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses such as asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. Smoke Free Home kits are available from Consumer Federation of America.

Chiropractors lobbying to expand access to veterans. The House Veterans Affairs Committee has voted to approve the Disabled Veterans Service Dog and Health Care Improvement Act of 2001 (H.R. 2792), which includes provisions to mandating a new program of chiropractic benefits within the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA). The bill would:

The American Physical Therapy Association and the American Osteopathic Association have been lobbying against the bill. Some subluxation-based chiropractors are upset that the present form of the bill does not refer to "subluxations"and would not prevent other practitioners from offering spinal "adjustments. House Concurrent Resolution 46, which calls for both of these provisions, has received no apparent Congressional support.

FDA approves 30-day contact lens. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved Focus Night and Day soft contact lenses, made by CIBA Vision Corporation, for up to 30 nights of continuous wear. The lenses may be left in the eyes while the wearer is both awake and asleep. Not everyone can use them that long, and some people experience adverse effects. Other contact lenses are approved for up to only seven days extended wear. [FDA approves 30-night continuous wear contact lenses. FDA Talk Paper T01-48, Oct 12, 2001]

Rodale Press losing money. Rodale Press, which publishes health and fitness books and magazines, has announced that it will lay off 148 workers (about 13% of its worldwide workforce). The Allentown Morning Call has reported that although the company's reported gross income for 1999 was $500 million, it lost money in both 1999 and 2000 and has not revealed recent sales figures. The article also states that Prevention magazine remained profitable but the company's book division was not. [Shope D. Rodale laying off 13% of work force. The Morning Call, Oct 18, 2001] Rodale's magazines, books, and Web site offer advice on a wide variety of topics but much of the information in unreliable. Prevention had the lowest accuracy score among the 20 magazines rated in the American Council on Science and Health's 1997-1999 survey of nutrition advice in popular magazines.

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This page was revised on October 21, 2001.