Consumer Health Digest #02-19

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 7, 2002

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.

Hundreds of Californians arrested for insurance fraud. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has made about 400 arrests in the last two years and hundreds more are expected in a crackdown on healthcare fraud in California. [FBI targets health care fraud in California. News release, April 18, 2002] The crackdown included a sting operation in which FBI agents set up their own "wellness clinic" in an office building in Encino and posed as doctors and patients. The suspects in the investigation offered kickbacks for the clinic to provide documents that falsely justified a need for durable medical equipment such as wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, and body braces.

Many California chiropractors involved in prostitution. The Los Angeles Times has reported that prostitution rings are setting up shop in suburban strip malls, medical plazas and business parks—often using chiropractic offices as a cover. [Morin M: Kinky therapy for your back: Desperate times for chiropractors drive some to set up shop with prostitution rings, officials say. Operators say they were tricked.
Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2002] The report states:

Businesses purporting to provide legal massage, acupressure, or aromatherapy services have also been used as fronts.

Texas enjoins Brian S. Peskin. The Texas Attorney General has obtained an agreed temporary injunction prohibiting Perkins Management Company (doing business as Maximum Efficiency Products) and its owner Brian S. Peskin from making a long list of allegedly misleading claims for three Radiant Health herbal and dietary supplement products. The government's complaint, filed April 26, charged Peskin and the company with falsely claiming that he held a Ph.D. degree, was a research scientist, and was a professor at Texas Southern University. The injunction prohibits these claims and also bars defendants from making unsubstantiated claims that their products will protect against heart disease; reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and other cancers; eliminate varicose veins; lower blood pressure; lower cholesterol; eliminate cellulite; prevent diabetes; manage ADD; help children or other persons with ADD, ADHD, or hyperactivity; make children smarter; or cure constipation. The products were based on information in Peskin's book Radiant Health: Moving Beyond the Zone. The complaint also noted that the company had not registered with the FDA or obtained a Texas manufacturing license as required by law. Additional information and the court documents have been posted to Quackwatch.

ACSH attacks "unconventional medicine." The American Council on Science and Health's Web site HealthFactsand has begun posting editorials that debunk various unconventional medical beliefs and practices. The first three cover antivaccination forces, traditional Chinese medicine, and devices marketed by Vogel Psychotronics.

Manitoba chiropractors facing pay cuts. The Manitoba government is cutting chiropractic coverage for adults by 30% and eliminating it entirely for children. For adults, the amount paid by Manitoba Health—currently $11.56 per visit for a maximum of 12 visits a year—is being reduced to $8 per visit. Youths under 18 will not be covered. Both measures take effect July 1. Health Minister Dave Chomiak says the cuts are a cost-cutting measure and not related to concerns over the risks of neck manipulations. [Chiropractors out of joint over cuts. Canadian Press, April 26, 2002]

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This page was posted on May 8, 2002.