Consumer Health Digest #06-43

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 24, 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.

Campaign launched against bogus diabetes products. The FTC, FDA, and government agencies in Mexico and Canada are working to curb deceptive Internet marketing of products misrepresented as effective against diabetes. So far the campaign has included approximately 180 warning letters and other advisories sent to online outlets in the three countries. The joint initiative originated with a Web surf for “hidden traps” by the International Consumer Protection and Enforcement Network (ICPEN), an organization of law enforcement authorities, members of the Mexico, United States, and Canada Health Fraud Working Group (MUCH), and the attorneys general offices of Alaska, Michigan, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin. After the sweep, the FTC sent warning letters to 84 domestic and 7 Canadian Web sites and referred an 21 other sites to foreign governments. About a quarter of the firms have already changed their claims or removed their pages from the Internet, and several others are in contact with FTC. This week the FDA  announced it has issued warning letters to 24 firms marketing dietary supplement products with claims to treat, cure, prevent or mitigate diabetes. The FTC has also launched an educational campaign that includes a “teaser” Web site that appears to be advertising a cure for diabetes called "Glucobate," but issues a warning when when consumers ask for more information on ordering the product. [FTC and FDA act against Internet vendors of fraudulent diabetes cures and treatments: Measures are part of coordinated effort by United States, Mexico and Canada. FDA news release, October 26, 2006]

Another chelation therapist disciplined. The Washington Department of Health's Medical Quality Assurance Commission has ordered Stephen L. Smith, M.D. of Richland, Washington to pay a $5,000 fine and undergo an assessment and educational program to determine whether he needs further remedial training. Among other things, Smith was charged with (a) improperly diagnosing mercury toxicity in a woman based on a previous hair analysis, (b) improperly prescribing and administering chelation therapy, and (c) inappropriately referring the women for insertion of a device that would enable him to administer hydrogen peroxide. The regulators concluded that Smith's treatment of the patient demonstrated "a fundamental lack of clinical-medical knowledge essential to formulate a valid diagnosis."A local judge has stayed the order pending the outcome of an appeal that Smith has filed. The order and stay are posted on Casewatch.

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This page was posted on October 26, 2006.