Consumer Health Digest #05-06

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 8, 2005

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.

"NICO" practitioners sued for fraud. General dentists James Shen, DDS and Rily Young, DDS of Huntington, California and oral pathologist Jerry E. Bouquot, D.D.S. of Houston, Texas are facing lawsuits alleging that in 1999 and 2000 they acted negligently and conspired to defraud four patients by diagnosing nonexistent jaw problems. In each case, the plaintiff sought help for multiple symptoms, some of which (such as tooth and jaw pain) could have been related to dental problems and others of which (such as sinusitis and chest pain) that were outside of the scope of dentistry. In all four cases, Shen and Young diagnosed “cavitations,” removed jaw tissues alleged to contain them, and sent specimens to Bouquot who confirmed the alleged diagnosis. Shen and Young are among a small number of dentists who maintain that facial pain and even pain and diseases located far from the mouth are caused by cavities (cavitations) within the jaw bones and can be cured by locating and scraping out the affected tissues. They may also remove all root-canal-treated teeth as well as other teeth close to the area where they claim the problem exists. Bouquot coined the term "neuralgia inducing cavitational osteonecrosis" ("NICO") in the 1980s. There is no scientific evidence to support the diagnostic and treatment methods associated with the NICO concept. The lawsuits allege:

The plaintiffs are represented by Attorney David Wilzig of Los Angeles. Quackwatch has additional information about NICO.

Medical equipment investment swindler receives 15-year sentence. Kenya Markisha Hutson, 30, of Woodland Hills, California, has been sentenced to 15 years in federal prison for operating a telemarketing scam that offered alleged investments in medical equipment. The judge, who described the defendant as a "sociopath," also ordered Hutson to pay 37 victims restitution totaling $1,356,500. In June 2004, a jury convicted Hutson of 14 counts of mail and wire fraud in the operation of E-Med, a front company that supposedly would refurbish and market state-of-the-art body scanning devices. Hutson promised that the scanners would be sold to medical facilities across the United States but used nearly all of the money to finance his lavish lifestyle, which included luxury automobiles and a home worth approximately $1.3 million. At the sentencing hearing, the judge recounted how Hutson had defrauded a widow who was undergoing chemotherapy for cancer and an elderly woman who was living on a fixed income while caring for her handicapped adult children. The judge also said that Hutson had obstructed justice by giving testimony that was "smug" and "preposterous." During the FBI's investigation, the authorities seized Hutson's lavish home.

Another homeopathic marketer ordered to stop selling "homeopathic vaccine." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ordered Heel, Inc., of Albuquerque, New Mexico, to stop claiming that five of its products are effective in preventing or treating influenza. [Malarkey MA. Warning letter to Chris Rusnock, Jan 3, 2005] Heel and its parent company have a long history of making illegal claims for homeopathic products. [Barrett S. Heel-BHI: The world's most outrageous homeopathic marketer. Homeowatch, Feb 8, 2005]

National fluoridation symposium announced. The American Dental Association (ADA) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are jointly sponsoring a symposium to celebrate the 60th anniversary of water fluoridation. The meeting is scheduled for July 13-16 in Chicago. The program, which will be open to the public, will feature researchers, dental professionals, public health officials, community leaders, and legislators. Additional information will be posted on the ADA Web site.

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This page was revised on February 9, 2005.