Consumer Health Digest #02-27
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 2, 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.
Cigarette taxes rise sharply. The cost of buying cigarettes has increased sharply this year in several states. The highest levy is in New York, whose buyers pay $1.50 per pack plus an additional $1.50 per pack in New York City. Others that are $1 or more per pack are New Jersey ($1.50), Washington ($1.425), Rhode Island ($1.32), Hawaii ($1.20), Connecticut ($1.11), Alaska, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania (as of July 15). California is now at $.87 per pack. Legislators and public health advocates favor high cigarette taxes because (a) they discourage many people from smoking and (b) they help defray the extra cost of treating people who have tobacco-related illnesses. Few cities are able to enact taxes because more than 40 states preempt local governments from taxing tobacco.
Evangelist charged with selling contaminated "miracle water." Evangelist Leroy Jenkins has been charged with illegally selling contaminated bottled water from his Healing Waters Cathedral in Delaware, Ohio, according to the Ohio Department of Agriculture. Officials said the "miracle water,'' derived from a well at the cathedral, was not properly labeled and that at least one bottle contained coliform bacteria found in human and animal waste. He was charged on Thursday with selling bottled water without a license and selling unsafe water. Jenkins denied that the water was unsafe. ['Miracle water' isn't, police say. Columbus Dispatch, June 29, 2002]
Cell Tech and its owners in financial trouble. Reports in the Klamath Falls (Oregon) Herald and News indicate that Cell Tech's owners, Daryl and Marta Kollman, have been battling over their divorce and property rights for more than a year. [Gibson K. Hard times at Cell Tech. Herald and News, Jan 20, 2002] The reports state:
- Court records and financial statements show that Cell Tech sold close to a billion dollars worth of algae products since its founding in 1982, grossing $200 million as recently as 1995. However, since 1997, gross product sales have fallen steadily from $125 million million in 1997 to $30 million in 2001 and the company has lost a total of $12 million from 1999 through 2001.
- Cell Tech hasn't harvested algae for the past two seasons, relying on frozen inventory to supply customers. Its stock trades for a small fraction of what it once went for.
- In 1996, Daryl Kollman pleaded guilty to a federal charge of tax evasion, was sentenced to 30 days in prison, and agreed to pay $20 million in back taxes and penalties, about $13 million of which is still owed.
For further information, search the Herald and News archives for "Kollman" and read the 10K and 10Q reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission that are accessible by searching Free Edgar for "Cell Tech."
Opthalmologist sentenced for fake surgery. Antoine Garabet, an ophthalmologist who founded a chain of 23 eye clinics in California has been sentenced to 21 months in prison and a $200,000 fine for fraud. Prosecutors say that Antoine Garabet, M.D., and his company Laser Eye Center (LEC) billed Medicare for sham eye surgeries between 1995 and 1997. The indictment stated that after obtaining consent from Medicare patients for laser eye surgery, Garabet would "go through a series of motions with the patient to make it appear that laser eye surgery was being performed when, in fact, it was not." LEC was placed on four years' probation, and Garabet and LEC were ordered to pay more than $264,000 in restitution.
City-sponsored fitness program criticized. In June 2002, mayor Lee Brown appointed Lee Labrada, a former Mr. Universe, to lead a 20-month Get Lean Houston! campaign. Local dietitians have objected to his use of the city's Web site to promote himself. [Graves R. Dietitians slam 'fitness czar's' use of city Web site. Houston Chronicle, June 29, 2002] The site offers a free diet and exercise program. Labrada Nutrition sells many highly questionable products. Although the site does not plug the company directly, the "sponsors" page links to it.
Herbal product (nettle) recalled because of lead content. Nature's Way Products, Inc. of Springville, UT is recalling four lots of its 100-count Nature's Way brand Nettle capsules because the product contains excessive amounts of lead. The affected lots were distributed primarily in health food retail establishments between October 2001 and May 2002. The pertinent lot numbers are 131237, 131238, 140738 and 215229. The problem has been traced to a single batch of raw material that was used to manufacture these lots. [Nature's Way Products, Inc. recalls nettle because of possible health risk. FDA news release, June 28, 2002]
Chiropractor charged with illegal veterinary practice. Gail Shannon Galligan, D.C., has been charged with practicing veterinary medicine without a license.by treating a dog with hip dysplasia. A spokesperson for the North Carolina Veterinary Medical Board said Dr. Galligan was issued a letter three years ago asking her not to treat animals but she continued to do so. The offense is classified as a high-level misdemeanor. [Turnbull AE. Chiropractor charged with treating pet. Wilmington Star, June 18, 2002.
This page was revised on July 3, 2002.