Consumer Health Digest #06-29
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 18, 2007
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.
Prescription ingredients found in "dietary supplement" sex aids. The FDA is warning consumers not to purchase Zimaxx, Libidus, Neophase, Nasutra, Vigor-25, Actra-Rx, or 4EVERON. because they contain undeclared sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) or vardenafil (the active ingredient in Levitra). [FDA warns consumers about dangerous ingredients in "dietary supplements" promoted for sexual enhancement. FDA news release, July 12, 2006] These products are marketed online as "dietary supplements" for treating erectile dysfunction and enhancing sexual performance. However:
- Dietary supplements cannot be legally marketed with such claims
- Sildenafil and vardenafil can drop blood pressure by interacting with the nitrate-containing drugs such as nitroglycerin and therefore should not be taken without medical supervision.
- Because the manufacturing source of the active ingredients in these "dietary supplements" is unknown to the FDA, there is no assurance that the ingredients are safe, effective, or pure.
Investigations uncover irresponsible homeopathic prescribing. In 2005, after people who relied on homeopathy developed malaria, the UK Health Protection Agency warned that "there is no scientific proof that homeopathic remedies are effective in either preventing or treating malaria." Despite this, two undercover investigations have found that homeopathic practitioners and pharmacists give potentially lethal advice about malaria vaccination:
- An intern from Sense About Science told 10 practitioners that she was about to visit a malaria-infested country and wondered whether there was anything else to take besides medically prescribed drugs. All recommended homeopathic remedies, and none cautioned that a medically prescribed drug should be taken.
- BBC's Newsnight visited a homeopathic practitioner and two pharmacies and received similar advice. [Ghosh P. Homeopathic practices 'risk lives.' BBC News, July 13, 2006]
The BBC report noted that homeopathic anti-malarial products were nearly 100% water and contained less than one-millionth of the amount of quinine in standard medical preparations.
Hellfried Sartori arrested in Thailand. Hellfried Erwin Sartori (a/k/a Hellfried Eric Sartori and Professor Abdul-Haqq Sartori) has been arrested in Chiang Mai, Thailand and charged with fraud and practicing medicine without a license. After attending an Austrian medical school, Sartori emigrated to the United States in 1975. He obtained a Maryland license in 1979 and practiced until 1985 when his license was revoked for incompetence. Press reports indicate that he was jailed for nine months in NewYork in 1996 and from 1999 to 2004 in Virginia for practicing medicine without a license. Several Web sites contain false claims that he can cure cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and a long list of other serious problems. Australian police are investigating the deaths of several patients who traveled to Thailand to receive his treatment. [Daly M, Wood L. Dr Ozone's long history of preying on the terminally ill. The Age, July 15, 2006]
Philip Morris "good guy" image attacked. The American Council on Science and Health Web site has posted an open letter characterizing the Philip Morris USA's "Youth Smoking Prevention" program as inadequate and hypocritical. For example, she wonders why, if the company is serious about catching the attention of youth, its pages fail to mention the link between cigarette smoking and erectile dysfunction. [Whelan EM. An open letter to Howard Willard, Executive Vice President Corporate Responsibility for Philip Morris USA. ACSH Web site, June 19, 2006] The letter was written in response to a New York Times Magazine article about Willard. [Nocera J. If it's good for Philip Morris, can It also be good for public health? June 18, 2006]
Marriott goes smoke-free. The Marriott hotel chain has announced that all its lodging facilities in the United States and Canada will become 100% smoke-free, beginning in September. The chain operates more than 2,300 hotels and corporate apartments and nearly 400,000 rooms under the Marriott, JW Marriott, The Ritz-Carlton, Renaissance, Courtyard, Residence Inn, SpringHill Suites, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Marriott ExecuStay brands. The new policy includes all guest rooms, restaurants, lounges, meeting rooms, public space and employee work areas. A company press release states that demand for smoke-free rooms has been rising and that its new policy represents the industry’s largest move to a non-smoking environment.
New edition of Consumer Health published. McGraw-Hill has published the eighth edition of Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions, written by Drs. Stephen Barrett, William M. London, Manfred Kroger, and Robert S. Baratz. The 608-page book covers all aspects of basic health strategy for consumers. Its companion Web site, Consumer Health Sourcebook, provides additional information and links to references.
This page was posted on July 19, 2006.