Consumer Health Digest #06-16

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 18, 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.

Children's weight-loss product marketers settle FTC charges. Vineet K. Chhabra (a/k/a Vincent K. Chhabra) and his companies, Dynamic Health of Florida, LLC, and Chhabra Group, LLC—all located in Weston, Florida—have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that they made false and misleading claims that:

The proposed agreement prohibits the defendants from making unsubstantiated benefit, performance, or efficacy claims for any dietary supplement, food, or drug, or misrepresenting any test or study. Two other defendants named in the FTC’s complaint—Jonathan Barash and DBS Laboratories, LLC—previously settled the charges against them. [Sellers of children’s weight-loss product settle FTC charges. FTC News release, April 6, 2006] PediaLoss retailed $69.95 for 120 tablets (a 30-day supply for children ages 6-10 and a 20-day supply for those 11-16). The FTC has also acted against two other alleged herbal weight-loss products, Skinny Pills (settled with consent agreement in 2005) and PediaLean (will probably settle soon). All three products were criticized at a Congressional hearing on dietary supplements for overweight children in June 2004. [Hoppin J. Testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, June 16, 2004] The full report on the hearing has been posted to Casewatch. (Warning: The 19 MB document can take a long time to download.)

Two studies find amalgam safe for children. The Journal of the American Medical Association has published the result of two studies that found no adverse health effects from amalgam fillings. One compared the neuropsychological and kidney function of 534 children whose decayed teeth were restored using either amalgam or mercury-free materials during a 5-year period. [Bellinger DC and others. Neuropsychological and renal effects of dental amalgam in children. JAMA 295:1775-1783, 2006] The other compared memory, attention/concentration, motor/visuomotor functions, and nerve conduction velocities of 507 children over a 7-year period. This study also found that the children who received composite fillings needed 50% more restorative treatment during the later years of the study. [DeRouen TA and others. Neurobehavioral effects of dental amalgam in children. JAMA 295:1784-1792, 2006]

UK General Medical Council lists dubious medical schools. The Medical Council has warned that graduates of several schools teaching within the United Kingdom but based in other countries will not qualify to take the examination necessary for registration as a medical doctor. The list has been posted to Credential Watch.

"Alternative" physician agrees to inactivate license. John R. Toth, M.D., who ran the Luke Center For Alternative Medicine in Topeka, Kansas, has signed a consent agreement under which he inactivated his license and cannot resume practice unless he undergoes remedial education and petitions the board for reactivation. He also agreed that if permitted to resume practice, he will (a) do so in a group setting, (b) refrain from diagnosing or treating Lyme disease without prior approval by an infectious disease specialist, (c) refrain from prescribing intravenous bismuth to any patient, (d) use only methods that are generally accepted by the medical community. In April 2005, the Kansas Board of Healing Arts reprimanded Toth for not timely responding to hospital pages. Two months later, the board issued an emergency suspension followed by an emergency order limiting his practice. The situation arose after two of his patients he treated with intravenous Bismacine were hospitalized with life-threatening complications. One whom he had treated for 11 years for Lyme disease had kidney failure. The other's heart stopped beating in Toth's office. Two weeks later, the board concluded that the first patient had been misdiagnosed and that the bismuth product contained a toxic metal and lacked FDA approval. The hospital summarily suspended Toth's privileges, and the board issued an emergency order limiting what Toth could do.

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