Consumer Health Digest #05-09

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 1, 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.

American Osteopathic Association accused of false advertising. Dr. Stephen Barrett believes that the American Osteopathic Association (OA) has a misleading message posted to its Web site. The 1-minute spot was created as part of a nationwide advertising effort in which about 75 AOA members recorded interviews for distribution to their local and regional media. During the interview, the osteopathic physician suggests that doctors of osteopathy: (a) have more training than medical doctors, (b) make more "complete" diagnoses, (c) "really get to the root" of their patients' problems, and (d) use osteopathic manipulation to "try to help the body heal itself." [Barrett S. Misleading claims by the American Osteopathic Association. Quackwatch, March 2, 2005]

Ephedra product seized. Acting at the FDA's request, U.S. Marshalls have seized $13,500 worth of SciFit Procut and Thermogen II located at ATF Fitness Products, Inc., in in Oakmont, Pennsylvania. The seizure followed an FDA investigation that determined that the products either contained prohibited ephedrine alkaloids or claimed to contain them but did not. The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania has filed a Complaint for Forfeiture that will lead to the products' destruction if the complaint is upheld. [Illegal dietary supplements seized. FDA talk paper, Feb 25, 2005]

Homeopathic products fail to prevent colds. A 12-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of 251 children under the age of 10 has found no difference in the incidence of new upper respiratory infections among children who received either an ultradilute homeopathic product ("30C" concentration) or a placebo. Parents chose the product based on simplified "constitutional" indications for the three products Norwegian homeopaths prescribe most frequently for this age group. [Steinsbekk S and others. Self treatment with one of three self selected, ultramolecular homeopathic medicines for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections in children. A double-blind randomized placebo controlled trial. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology OnlineEarly doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2005.02336.x] "Ultramolecular" products are made by repeatedly diluting a tincture of the original "active" ingredient well past the point where no molecules of the substance remain. "Constitutional typing," which resembles astrologic typing, is based mainly on personality characteristics.

Naturopath imprisoned for narcotic prescribing. Jeffrey H. Feingold, N.D. of Scottsdale, Arizona, has been sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay nearly $29,400 after a jury convicted him on 185 counts of prescribing OxyContin and morphine without a legitimate medical purpose. Evidence at the trial showed that 10 patients and two undercover agents posing as patients received prescriptions for more than 14,000 doses of controlled substances such as Percocet, Vicodin, morphine and OxyContin over an 18-month period. [Scottsdale physician sentenced to 12 years in prison for illegal distribution of drugs. USDOJ news release, Dec 20, 2004.]

FTC urged to investigate 7-Day Miracle Cleanse. The Electronic Retailing Self-Regulation Program (ERSP) has asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate claims made in a 30-minute infomercial for the "7-Day Miracle Cleanse." The infomercial's core representations included:

The infomercial came to the ERSP's attention through its own monitoring and a complaint by Dr. Stephen Barrett. Its critical report is posted on Infomercial Watch.

Quackwatch launches two new sites. Quackwatch has added two new sites to its network:

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This page was revised on March 2, 2005.