Consumer Health Digest #07-30

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 7, 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.

Appeals court upholds stringent FDA regulation of experimental drugs. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has ruled 8-2 that terminally ill patients do not have a constitutional right to access drugs that have passed preliminary safety tests and are now in FDA-approved clinical trials. Rather, the court ruled that safety is still an important issue and that the legislative branch of our government is better suited than the courts to decide the proper balance between the uncertain risks and benefits of medical technology. The ruling by the full court reversed an earlier 2-1 decision in favor of the Washington Legal Foundation (WLF) and its client, the Abigail Alliance for Better Access to Developmental Drugs, an organization that seeks expanded access to experimental drugs for the terminally ill. WLF plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The case documents are archived on the WLF Web site.

Naturopaths report low incomes. The National College of Naturopathic Medicine has published a report which suggests that recent naturopathic graduates make very little money. The report was based on a survey that was mailed to 1086 graduates and drew 340 responses, a 31% response rate. The median net 2004 after-tax income was $15,000 for those who had been in practice less than 1 year, 17,948 for those who had practiced for 1 to 1.99 years, 15,000 for those who had practiced for 2 to 2.99 years, 20,000 for those who had practiced 3-3.99 years, and 29,000 for those who had practiced 5 to 7.99 years. The median income for all responders was $34,000. The report did not indicate whether nonresponders to the survey were practicing naturopathy or how they compared to those who responded. [Alumni survey summer 2004—income data. National College of Naturopathic Medicine] Naturopathy critics suspect that many new naturopaths are unable to earn enough to sustain their career and pay off their student loans.

British clinic ordered to stop unsubstantiated "detox" claims. The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint against the Body Detox Clinic and ordered the clinic to stop claiming that its colonic irrigation and "detoxification" programs can help people with constipation, diarrhea, bloating, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, flatulence, bad breath, body odor, headaches, fatigue, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, acne, joint pain, premenstrual tension, and water retention. The clinic attempted to justify its claims by citing the writings of Bernard Jensen (a deceased American chiropractor noted for his promotion of iridology) and Michael Gershon, another American who it said had postulated that the intestine contains a "second brain." However, the ASA concluded that except possibly for relief of occasional constipation, the clinic had "provided only anecdotal evidence . . . and had not been able to support those claims with robust clinical evidence." The ASA report is posted on Casewatch.

License of chiropractor who gave IV treatments revoked. In May 2007, the Colorado State Board of Chiropractic Examiners revoked the chiropractic license of Tamea Sisco on grounds that she had "used her chiropractic license to promote a nonchiropractic enterprise." The revocation order states that she had administered intravenous treatments that were outside the scope of chiropractic. For several years, Sisco has been "clinical director" of the Excel Treatment Program, a clinic in Denver, Colorado. The clinic's Web site offers a program of intravenous infusions of amino acids, vitamins, and minerals that is claimed to help cure drug and alcohol addiction. The treatment is described in U.S. Patent Application 20050287226, which Sisco filed in 2001 and continued in 2005. In 1996, Sisco was placed on one year's probation for "negligence" and ordered to have her practice monitored. The 2007 order, however, notes that she took seven years to complete the probation.

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This page was posted on August 8, 2007.