Consumer Health Digest #05-33
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 16, 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.
Iowa Attorney General charges "See Clearly" sellers with fraud. The Iowa Attorney General has filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Vision Improvement Technologies (VIT), Inc., a Fairfield, Iowa, company that sells a so-called natural vision improvement kit called the "See Clearly Method." The suit charges that the company made unsubstantiated claims that consumers who used the method could quickly and easily free themselves of having to wear glasses or contact lenses." The "See Clearly Method" includes manuals, charts, videotapes and audiotapes demonstrating eye exercises and other techniques. The exercises and "techniques" included focusing eyes using special charts or props, facing with eyes closed a bright light a few inches away, covering eyes with hands for sustained periods, and applying hot and cold wash cloths over closed eyes. The suit noted:
- The method is based in part on the work of William H. Bates, M.D., whose ideas have been dismissed by mainstream eye-care professionals for decades.
- The method was advertised as safe, easy, and even fun, without disclosing that some of the primary eye exercises could produce headaches, and did in fact produce headaches in some users.
- Advertisements featured testimonials from people with undisclosed connections to the company.
- Ads continued using "no more glasses" testimonials, even after the people making such claims had quit using the product and were wearing glasses most of the time.
- VIT claimed that it received letters every day from satisfied consumers who had enjoyed tremendous improvement in their vision, but, in fact, positive letters were relatively scarce and were far outnumbered by letters from unhappy customers.
- The company also made it too difficult for dissatisfied purchasers to get refunds. [Miller sues Vision Improvement Technologies, Inc. Iowa Attorney General news release, Aug 10, 2005]
The Better Business Bureau states that VIT "has an unsatisfactory record with the Bureau due to a pattern of complaints and has failed to correct the underlying reason for the complaints." The full text of the Attorney General's suit is posted on Casewatch.
Actuaries estimate that secondhand smoke costs over $10 billion a year. Environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) has been shown to be associated with increases in rates of cancer, morbid conditions of the respiratory and cardiovascular system, and increases in the rates of spontaneous abortion and perinatal mortality. A study commissioned by the Society of Actuaries has combined data on exposure, increased morbidity, and medical and indirect costs to estimate the total economic cost of ETS exposure in the United States. The study's authors estimate that total annual costs for conditions with well-documented increases in morbidity, excluding economic losses related to pregnancy and the newborn, exceed $5 billion in direct medical costs and $5 billion in indirect costs. [Behan DF and others. Economic Effects of Environmental Tobacco Smoke. Society of Actuaries, March 31, 2005] Findings like these might eventually lead life and health insurers to charge more to insure people exposed to ETS.
Yet another colloidal silver victim. A 38-year-old man developed argyria after ingesting approximately 16 ounces of 450 ppm colloidal silver three times a day for 10 months to treat his arthritis and other conditions. He made the solution with a simple battery-operated chamber that leached silver from pure silver wire. He had obtained the plans from information on the Internet. [Wadhera A, Fung M. Systemic argyria associated with ingestion of colloidal silver. Dermatology Online Journal 11(1):12, 2005] During the past ten years, at least ten other cases following colloidal silver use have been reported. [Barrett S. Colloidal silver: Risk without benefit. Quackwatch, Aug 16, 2005]
Warren Levin disciplined. The Connecticut Department of Health accepted a consent agreement under which Warren M. Levin, M.D., waived his right to a hearing about allegations that, if proven, would begrounds for disciplinary action. The investigator's report, written in December 2003, alleged that Levin had engaged in illegitimate medical practices, falsely told patients he was doing research, and had staff members perform procedures for which they were not properly credentialed and licensed. Levin relocated to Arizona at about that time and let his Connecticut license lapse in August 2004. However, the Department took steps to ensure that if he reapplied for licensure in Connecticut, it could deny the application unless he could demonstrate that his practice would be legal, safe, and effective. The disputed practices included chelation therapy, ozone therapy, electrodermal testing, live cell analysis, and PolyMVA as a cancer treatment.
This page was posted on August 17, 2005.