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]
- Two marketers will pay between $8 million and $12 million to settle FTC allegations that Xenadrine EFX’s weight-loss claims were false and unsubstantiated. The funds will be used for consumer redress. Xenadrine EFX contains green tea extract, caffeine, and bitter orange (Citrus aurantium). Among other things, the FTC charged that people appearing in the ads had achieved their reported weight loss by engaging in rigorous diet and/or exercise programs and were paid from $1,000 to $20,000 in connection with their testimonials. In a bankruptcy case not involving the Commission, the defendants have agreed to pay at least an additional $22.75 million to settle claims brought by creditors and consumers, including personal injury claims for an earlier ephedra-based product.
- Seven marketers will surrender assets totaling at least $12 million to settle FTC charges that they made false and unsubstantiated claims that CortiSlim would cause rapid, substantial, and permanent weight loss in all users and that CortiStress would reduce the risk of osteoporosis, obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
- The marketers of TrimSpa will pay $1.5 million to settle FTC allegations they made unsubstantiated claims that it causes rapid and substantial weight loss and that one of its ingredients, Hoodia gordonii, enables this by suppressing appetite.
- The Bayer Corporation will pay a $3.2 million to settle FTC allegations that advertisements for One-A-Day WeightSmart multivitamins violated an earlier Commission order requiring all health claims for One-A-Day brand vitamins to be supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The FTC objected to claims that One-A-Day WeightSmart, which contains EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), would prevent weight gain and facilitate weight loss by increasing metabolism.
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.
This page was posted on January 10, 2006.