Consumer Health Digest #04-48
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 30, 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 decision-making.
Another argyria case reported. A 16-year-old boy developed blue-gray pigmentation of his entire body after ingesting a silver-containing dietary supplement for a year. The product, packaged so that it was identical to bottled water, was touted as a preventive for everyday infections. [Wickless SC, Schwader TA. Medical mystery—The answer. New England Journal of Medicine 352:2349-2350, 2004] This is at least the tenth such case reported in the United States within the past five years. [Barrett S. Colloidal silver: Risk without benefit. Quackwatch Web site, revised 11/30/04]
Hulda Clark associate barred from making false claims. Scientologist David Amrein has settled FTC charges that he made false claims for devices and an herbal program for treating cancer. Amrein is closely associated with Hulda Clark, an unlicensed naturopath who falsely claims that all cancers are caused by parasites and can be cured with a low-voltage electrical device and various herbs. In January 2003, the FTC charged the Dr. Clark Association (a nonprofit organization in California), Behandlungzentrum GMbH (a Swiss company), and Amrein (a Swiss citizen who is the sole officer and director of both) with making unsubstantiated claims for several products that Clark recommends. The settlement enables customers to obtain refunds and bars the defendants from making 10 types of unsubstantiated claims. In 2001, the FTC obtained a consent agreement with another advertiser of products based on Clark's theories. Clark, who writes books and operates a Mexican clinic, was not charged in these cases because her claims for the products do not constitute advertising.
Missouri sues home water treatment sellers for deceptive practices. The Missouri Attorney General has charged Hague Quality Water of the Ozarks with falsely promising consumers that its water treatment system would improve their family's health. The Attorney General's lawsuit alleges that one purchaser was told that his water had tested "harder" than it actually was and that another consumer was told that using it would improve the asthma and eczema of the consumer's son. The regulators are seeking restitution plus civil penalties and costs. [Nixon sues water system company for deceptive sales practices; seeks $55,000 in restitution for consumers. News release, Nov 4, 2004]
Quack cancer product marketers ordered to stop. The FDA has ordered the individuals doing business as the Kangniling Pharmaceutical Company of Great Neck, New York, to stop marketing Canserfx170 as a cancer remedy. [Baca J. Warning letter to Kangniling Pharmaceutical Co. May 5, 2004] The product, which contains ginseng and other herbs, is claimed to cure cancer and decrease the adverse effects of radiation and chemotherapy. A 10-day supply of the product, which cost $1.60 per bottle to manufacture, was offered for sale at a "discounted" price of $125 ("list price" $175). The company's Web site has claimed that clinical trials of over 40,000 patients have shown very high effectiveness, but Dr. Stephen Barrett believes that the figures were simply made up. The company also pirated pictures from another Web site to pretend that it was a major dietary supplement manufacturer. Quackwatch has a detailed report.
Dr. Stephen Edelson facing third autism-related lawsuit. Stephen B. Edelson and his Atlanta-based Edelson Center for Environmental and Preventive Medicine are facing another lawsuit in connection with his mistreatment of an autistic boy. The suit charges that:
- The child's parents consulted Edelson when the child was four years old. Edelson told them (falsely) that autism has a toxic basis and that everybody who undergoes his treatments gets better, but if treatment were not begun right away, the autism would become "permanent" when the child turned six.
- Edelson had tests performed on 20 tubes of blood and reported that the child's body had been "damaged immensely by poisons" and needed "biodetoxification," chelation, and nutritional therapies beginning with seven weeks of daily treatments. Although it represented a financial hardship, the family paid $43,700 in advance for these treatments.
- The treatments were difficult and painful, involving multiple intravenous treatment (chelation therapy) with frequent needle changes due to technician errors. The nutritional regimen included about 50 pills and capsules a day, which often caused the boy to vomit.
- During the 7-weeks of treatment, the boy's condition worsened, he lost much weight, and he reversed gains previously made through behavioral and educational therapy. However, Edelson did not personally monitor the child's progress.
Two similar suits within the past few years have been settled out of court with substantial payment. [Barrett S. Edelson Center sued three times for fraud and malpractice. Quackwatch, Nov 30, 2004]
This page was posted on November 23, 2004.