Consumer Health Digest #06-10

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 7, 2006

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.

California courts uphold fluoridation mandate. The California Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld a 2004 trial court ruling that California's state fluoridation law preempts a city law created by a voters' measure intended to ban fluoridation. California's law requires all public water systems to fluoridate their drinking water if funding is available to do so. In 2002, even though Watsonville had accepted a $946,000 grant to fund installation of the equipment, its citizens passed a deceptively-worded referendum ("Measure S") to prohibit introduction of any substance into the city's water that is not approved for safety and effectiveness by the federal Food and Drug Administration. (The referendum's target was fluoridation, which the FDA does not regulate.) Watsonville's city council then sued to thwart the state law, but the trial court ruled that state health and safety codes preempted city ordinances and ordered the city to fluoridate. The appeals court agreed and noted that "fluoridation of the state’s public water systems for the purpose of improving the dental health of the state’s citizens is a matter of statewide concern." In 2006, the California Supreme Court declined to hear the case, which means that Watsonville must proceed with fluoridation. Because the appellate court decision is certified for publication, it is very unlikely that any lower court in California will rule the opposite way in the future.

New consumer guide to managing coronary heart disease. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has issued a 72-page step-by-step guide to helping people with heart disease make decisions that will protect and improve their lives. Called Your Guide to Living Well with Heart Disease, it covers testing, controlling risk factors, recognizing heart-attack signs, and current treatments. Single copies cost $4, but the entire booklet can be read online or downloaded free of charge.

Another chelation therapist loses license. Last year, the Maryland State Board of Physicians revoked the license of Binyamin H. Rothstein, D.O. (formerly known as Brian Rothstein, D.O.) on grounds that he "failed to disclose to the board in response to an investigative subpoena certain documents from his medical files and after years of probation, peer reviews, and supervision continued to practice substandard medicine." This was the third time the board disciplined him for substandard practice. In 1996, he was placed on probation for three years for improperly diagnosing ten seriously ill patients and inappropriately treating them with intravenous vitamins and/or hydrogen peroxide. In 2000, after signing a consent order to settle charges of substandard care involving nine patients, he was placed on three more years of probation during which he was barred from administering chelation therapy, intravenous vitamins, intravenous hydrogen peroxide, or other forms of "alternative medicine." His revocation was based on inappropriate treatment of three more patients and failing to provide additional records for the board to review. Currently, he is listed as scientific and medical consultant for Age Diagnostic Laboratories, a Chicago-based facility whose Web site describes it as an "international syndication of specialty labs in the USA, Europe, Asia and Australia" that provides a "standardization of Anti Aging testing to the world. "

Shantha's license suspended. The Georgia Composite State Board of Medical Examiners suspended the medical license of Totata R. Shanthaveerappa, M.D. (aka T.R. Shantha, M.D.). The action was taken after Shantha was indicted on charges of health care fraud, money laundering, and distributing unapproved and misbranded drugs. The suspension order also expressed concern that Shantha had treated cancer patients inappropriately. The indictment is posted on Casewatch.

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This page was posted on March 7, 2006.