Consumer Health Digest #07-02

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 9, 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.

FTC blasts four major "diet pill" scams. In separate cases, the marketers of Xenadrine EFX, CortiSlim, CortiStress, TrimSpa, and One-A-Day WeightSmart have agreed to pay a total of $25 million dollars to settle FTC allegations that they engaged in deceptive marketing. [Federal Trade Commission reaches “New Year’s” resolutions with four major weight-control pill marketers. FTC news release, Jan 4, 2007]

New law targets Medicaid fraud. Section 6032 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which went into effect this month, requires hospitals, nursing homes, and other businesses receiving at least $5 million a year from Medicaid to establish written policies that tell employees how to detect and report fraud, waste, and abuse. Employees must also be taught that the federal False Claims Act protects whistleblowers against retaliation and may entitled them to a share of money the government recovers. In 2005, Medicaid recovered about $709 million in court-ordered restitution, fines, settlements, and penalties.

Nonaccredited "medical school" shuts down. The Capital University of Integrated Medicine, a nonaccredited postgraduate school that promoted many disreputable practices, has ceased operations. Founded in 1995, it defined "integrative medicine" as "medicine that views the patient as the most important member of the medical team and applies all safe and effective therapies without subservience to any one school of medical thought." Its "degree" offerings included "Doctor of Integrated Medicine," "Doctor of Integrated Health Science," and "Doctor of Integrated Clinical Medicine, Ph.D."—none of which has any recognized academic or legal standing.

Quackwatch endorses anti-spam service. Dr. Stephen Barrett has concluded that OnlyMyEmail provides effective spam control for individuals and Web site operators. Over a 3-month period, the service has stopped more than 99% of spams sent to Quackwatch mailboxes and demonstrated an error rate (good messages misidentified as spam) of less than 1%. The monthly cost is $4 for individuals and $30 or more for domains. A one-month free trial is available.

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This page was posted on January 10, 2006.