Consumer Health Digest #06-46

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 14, 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.

Questionable clinic will close. The Washington Court of Appeals has issued a mixed ruling in the case of Monte Kline and his clinics. In 2005, a King County Superior Court Judge ordered Kline, who prescribed dietary supplements and other products based on the results of electrodermal testing (EDT), to pay nearly $2 million in penalties and attorneys fees for violating the State of Washington's Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The judge also ruled that Kline and Pacific Health Center (PHC), of Bellevue, Washington, were practicing medicine, naturopathy, and acupuncture without a license and ordered them to stop doing so. The Appeals Court concluded:

We agree with the trial court's ruling that, although the defendants use alternative practice methods and terminology, their actual practices fall under the statutory definitions of medicine, naturopathy, and acupuncture. But practicing any of these disciplines without a license is not a per se CPA violation. The State failed to prove defendants did not have the level of competence they represented to the public or that any member of the public was even potentially injured by their actions. As such, the State did not prove a violation of the Act. Because the State did not prove defendants violated the CPA, the trial court also erred in imposing penalties under that statute.

The case began in 2003 when the Washington Attorney General accused Kline and the clinic of misrepresenting the significance of his credentials and the diagnostic capabilities of EDT. EDT is a bogus procedure claimed to detect "imbalances" in the flow of "electromagnetic energy" through the body. The devices are fancy galvanometers that reflect how hard the operator presses a probe against the patient's skin. No such device can be legally marketed in the United States for diagnostic or treatment purposes. Kline has a "PhD in Nutrition & Wholistic Health Sciences" from Columbia Pacific University, a nonaccredited correspondence school that was ordered to cease operations in California in 2001. Following the Appeals Court ruling, Kline announced that he would close his Bellevue clinic because the "unlicensed practice" ruling barred him from doing EDT.

Leading quackery historian dies. James Harvey Young, Ph.D., Candler Professor Emeritus at Emory University, died on July 29, 2006 at 90 years of age from complications following a stroke. During his career, he produced nine books and about 150 articles and book chapters. His first and most famous book was The Toadstool Millionaires: A Social History of Patent Medicines in America Before Federal Regulation (1961). His 1967 sequel, The Medical Messiahs: A Social History of Health Quackery in Twentieth Century America, illuminated the political struggle for government regulation of health products and inspired Dr. Stephen Barrett to follow in his footsteps. Both books were republished by Consumers Union and are archived on Quackwatch. In a chapter in The Health Robbers, Young concluded, "Quacks never sleep. But education and regulation can reduce the toll they take in wasted resources and human suffering."

Canada issues senseless homeopathic regulations. Health Canada's Natural Health Directorate, whose role is to "ensure that Canadians have ready access to natural health products that are safe, effective, and of high quality," has issued rules for homeopathic products. [Evidence for homeopathic medicines, version 2.0. National Health Directorate, November 2006]

These regulations are senseless because no homeopathic product has been proven effective for treating any health problem. [Barrett S. Homeopathy: The ultimate fake. Quackwatch, Dec 28, 2003] The alleged substantiation relies primarily on "provings," most of which were done during the 1800s and early 1900s. These involved taking various substances and recording every twitch, sneeze, ache or itch that occurred afterward—often for several days. Homeopathy's followers take for granted that every sensation reported was caused by whatever substance was administered, and that extremely dilute doses of that substance will help people with those specific symptoms. Materia medica are compilations of provings that are used to match a patient's symptoms with a "corresponding" drug.

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This page was revised on November 16, 2006.