Consumer Health Digest #04-33

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 17, 2004

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

FTC attacks funeral price advertising restriction. The Virginia Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers has agreed to settle FTC charges that it illegally restrained competition by prohibiting licensed funeral providers from advertising discounts for products and services. The FTC charged that a board regulation that prohibited Board licensees from advertising discounts for "pre-need" funeral planning deprived consumers of truthful price information. Advance planning can be advantageous by allowing consumers time to compare prices among different providers. The FTC charged that the regulation deprived consumers of the benefits of price competition among licensees and resulted in some consumers paying higher prices. The order bars the Board from prohibiting or restricting truthful price advertising. [Funeral directors' board settles with FTC. [FTC news release, Aug 16, 2004] The FTC Funeral Rule, which bans certain deceptive practices and requires providers to disclose prices and give truthful and complete information. The FTC advises consumers to be aware of their rights and to shop around.. [Funerals: A Consumer Guide]

Enzyte marketers sued. Hagens Berman has filed a suit on behalf of purchasers of Enzyte, an herbal product claimed to increase the size of men's genitalia. The suit charges that the manufacturer, Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals, intentionally distributed false claims about the product and used deceptive and confusing materials to mislead customers into waiving their right to collect a refund. The Cincinnati Better Business Bureau, which has received more than 2,600 complaints related to Enzyte and other products, has rated the company "unsatisfactory." Most of these complaints focus on billing and marketing practices, particularly an offer for a free sample that automatically led to the customer being billed for an additional supply of the product. The Cincinnati Post has reported that in 2003, seven magazine and radio station groups sued the company for nearly $721,000 for advertising they claimed had not been paid for. [Paeth G. Enzyte maker under fire. Cincinnati Post, August 14, 2004]

British Advertising Authority attacks hypnosis-for-cancer ad. The British Advertising authority has concluded that Bryan Evers, who operates a hypnosis facility, could not subsubstantiate communications in which he suggested that "significant emotional events" can trigger cancer or that cancer could be successfully treated with hypnotherapy, neurolinguistic programming, and imagery. [Adjudication: Bryan Evers, July 21, 2004] Evers's approach was largely based on the "New Medicine," developed by Ryke Geerd Hamer, a German physician who claims that (a) the sudden and unforeseen onset of emotional conflict leads to cancer; (b) cancers can be cured if the conflict is successfully resolved; and (c) no other forms of treatment are necessary. The Swiss Study Group for Complementary and Alternative Methods in Cancer has published a position paper recommending against its use.

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This page was posted on August 17, 2004.