Consumer Health Digest #05-43
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 25, 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.
Researchers urge crackdown on illegal HGH sales. The Journal of the American Medical Association has published a report urging government officials to crack down on the widespread illegal distribution of human growth hormone (HGH) through the Internet and the offices of so-called "antiaging medicine" specialists. [Perls TH and others. Provision or distribution of growth hormone for "antiaging"—Clinical and legal issues. JAMA 294:2086-2090, 2005] The report notes:
- Unlike most FDA-approved medications, the distribution is limited only for indications specifically authorized by the Secretary of Health and Human services.
- For adults, the distribution is legal only for treating two conditions (wasting syndrome in AIDS and appropriately diagnosed growth hormone deficiency), neither of which is common.
- Distributing or marketing of HGH to treat "aging" and its related disorders is a federal crime punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 for an individual or $500,000 for an organization.
Microwave cancer therapy criticized. An Australian Government council has evaluated the microwave therapy practiced by Dr. John Holt in Western Australia. Its comprehensive review of patient records and published scientific reports has concluded that the treatment is no better than standard treatment for some cancers and is inferior to standard treatment for others. [Australian Government National Health and Medical Research Council. Review of the use of Microwave Therapy for the Treatment of Patients with Cancer. Sept 2005] The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has reported that Holt has retired but a new clinic in his name will offer the therapy.
Cherry juice marketers told to stop illegal claims. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to 29 companies that manufacture, market, or distribute juice concentrates and/or products made from cherries or other fruits. The letters told the firms to stop making unproven claims on their Web sites and product labels that their fruit products treat or prevent disease. [FDA warns companies to stop marketing fruit products with unproven disease treatment and prevention claims. News release, Oct 24, 2005] All of the companies claimed that their cherry products were useful in preventing or treating arthritis, cancer, and/or other serious health problems. The warning letters are posted on the FDA Web site.
This page was posted on October 15, 2005.