Consumer Health Digest #03-14

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 8, 2003

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.

ConsumerLab will track pharmacy sites and prices. ConsumerLab, which tests the ingredient levels of dietary supplements and herbs, has launched a new service to rate the legitimacy of online pharmacies and compare prices for prescription and nonprescription products. The new service, Pharmacy Checker, costs $19.95 for the first year ($24.95 after May 31st). In June, the site will also offer a customized weekly report on changes in the price of selected products. ConsumerLab subscribers are entitled to a 40% discount.

"Healer" pleads guilty to practicing chiropractic without a license. Harvey Bank, who operates the Transformational Healing Center in Springfield, Ohio, was fined $7,500 and placed on probation for 2 years after pleading guilty to three counts of practicing chiropractic without a license. [Harshaw D. Unlicensed healer accepts guilty plea. Springfield News-Sun, March 23, 2003] Bank's Web site states that he has written "approximately 80 peer-reviewed scientific articles and book chapters," has "studied extensively with several world class healers and body-workers," and is a "licensed minister, reiki master,stress therapist, body worker, and therapeutic touch practitioner." However, he has no license to offer health services.

FDA investigating unapproved ALS treatment. Mitchell Ghen, M.D., is under investigation for not seeking FDA approval and allegedly misrepresenting the value of stem cell treatment for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease). According to news reports, Glenn had been transfusing umbilical cord blood to patients who paid $25,000 for the treatment. [Wahlberg D. ALS treatments questioned by FDA. Cox News Service, March 29, 2003] Ghen does business as the Institute of Cellular Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia.

Canadian agency orders halt to unauthorized data collection. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner has ordered Alberta pharmacists and pharmacies to stop selling information about the prescribing habits of individual physicians without their consent. Before the ruling, drug companies could use the information to determine marketing strategies. [OIPC Order H2002-003, March 19, 2003].

Homeopathy flunks asthma test. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial has found no evidence that homeopathic remedies are superior to placebo in improving the quality of life of children with mild to moderate asthma when given in addition to conventional treatment. The study included 96 children who were followed for up to 12 months. [White A and others. Individualised homeopathy as an adjunct in the treatment of childhood asthma: A randomised placebo controlled trial. Thorax 58:317-321, 2003]

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This page was posted on April 8, 2003.