Consumer Health Digest #07-24

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 19, 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.

FDA Consumer ceases publication. In April, the FDA stopped publishing its consumer magazine. Originally titled FDA Papers, the magazine covered a broad range of health and regulatory topics. Many of its articles from 1989 onward remain online, and some will be updated from time to time. The FDA provides additional consumer health information through its Web site and the FDA Consumer E-mail List.

"Biological dentist" surrenders license. James Shen, D.D.S. has settled multiple charges against him by agreeing to surrender his California dental license. As part of the agreement, the State agreed not to assess more than $87,000 for the cost of investigating him. In 2005, Shen and his late wife, Rily Young, D.D.S., were charged with gross negligence, excessive prescribing, practicing outside the scope of their dental licenses, and obtaining a fee by misrepresentation. The charges centered around the management of Mirjana Lukic, a 47-year-old woman who had been experiencing chronic pain in her head, neck, spine, lower back and leg; dizziness; fatigue; eye pain and blurred vision with accompanying headaches; and disturbed sleep patterns. The accusation document stated that the pair diagnosed "neuralgia inducing cavitational osteonecrosis (NICO)" and other nonexistent problems and improperly removed many of Lukic's teeth and portions of the her jawbone. In June 2006, Shen was charged again with with gross negligence, excessive prescribing, and practicing outside the scope of his license. The Board alleged that he falsely told a board investigator who presented himself as a patient with tooth pain that he had extensive dental problems, was suffering from mercury toxicity, and should have his amalgam fillings removed. Shen also recommended intravenous vitamin C therapy in association with the amalgam removal. The accusation document also charged that Shen failed to adequately evaluate the patient and recommended unnecessary and excessive treatment. In October 2006, Shen was further accused of inappropriately administering injections of hydrogen peroxide, vitamin C, and/or echinacea to patients who had complained of nondental problems. Shen has also been sued several times for fraud and/or malpractice in connection with his diagnosis and treatment of "NICO."

Texas limits use of unrecognized board certification in advertising. Texas Medical Board regulations prohibit advertising claims of certification by boards that are not recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS). In response to a complaint, Pieter J. De Wet, M.D., has agreed to pay an administrative penalty of $500 for advertising that he was certified by the American Board of Holistic Medicine (ABHM), which lacks ABMS recognition. He also modified his Web site by adding mention that ABHM is not recognized by ABMS. In December 2005, De Wet paid an administrative penalty of $1,000 to settle charges that he had caused the dissemination of an advertisement that falsely stated that chelation therapy could unblock blood vessels and enable a patient to avoid coronary bypass surgery. De Wet runs the Quantum Healing Institute and Day Spa in Tyler, Texas, which offers many types of dubious treatment. The orders are posted on Casewatch.

Hindu priests mobilized to fight polio. Hindu priests in Bihar, an impoverished state in India, are blessing children with polio vaccine drops instead of holy water to help eradicate polio. Eleven cases of polio were reported in early 2007 in Bihar. (More than 600 cases were reported across India last year.) The priests, who call the drops "god's blessings," have been trained by Indian health officials to administer the polio drops to immunize children. Officials believe involving the temple priests is a good idea because residents regard the priests with great reverence. Muslim clerics have also been trying to help. [Dutta A. Polio drops replace ‘charnamrit.’ India Tribune, April 0, 2007] Polio has been eliminated from most developed countries but still paralyzes children in India, Nigeria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

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