Consumer Health Digest #07-43

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 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.

Unlicensed pair fined for administering fatal water-only fast. The Maryland Board of Physicians has issued cease-and-desist orders against Loren Eric Lockman and Timothy Scott Trader for practicing medicine without a license and representing to the public that they were authorized to practice medicine. Loren was fined $320,000 for seven violations, each of which reflected what had happened to one client. Trader was fined $70,000 for two violations related to two of the clients. Lockman founded the Tanglewood Wellness Center, which operated in Maryland until 2005 when he relocated the facility to Panama. Lockman employed Trader in 2003 and 2004. The pair advocated a raw food diet and administered water-only fasting for lengthy periods for people whose health conditions were worsened or could have been worsened by such fasting. They also discouraged the use of prescribed medications. Both conducted themselves in a manner that falsely suggested that they were trained health professionals. In the fatal case, Trader advised a 22-year-old woman with insulin-dependent diabetes to stop taking her insulin and undergo a water-only fast. After she became acutely ill with diabetic ketoacidosis, he administered huge amounts of insulin, but she lost consciousness and died soon afterwards. (Insulin alone is not sufficient treatment for diabetic ketoacidosis.) Lockman still operates his facility in Panama. Trader, who obtained naturopathic "training" from two nonaccredited correspondence schools, has relocated to California. Quackwatch has additional information and links to the cease-and-desist orders.

Hearing highlights abuse at unregulated youth camps. The U.S. of Representatives Education and Labor Committee has held a hearing on child abuse and neglect at private residential treatment facilities that are commonly referred to as “boot camps,” “wilderness programs,” or “behavior modification facilities.” In 2005, committee chairman George Miller (D-CA) asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate the situation and proposed legislation to help the states create licensing standards for such facilities. The GAO's report, which was introduced at the hearing, includes ten detailed examples from thousands of alleged cases reported between 1990 and 2007. [Kutz GD. Residential treatment programs: Concerns regarding abuse and death in certain programs for troubled youth. GAO Report #GAO-08-146T, Oct 10, 2007] The agency is examining how such facilities are regulated and is expected to make recommendations next year.

Arrests reported in alleged Japanese blood test scheme. Seven people have been arrested for selling metal bracelets falsely claimed to improve blood flow. Among them were Minoru Kajimoto, president, and six former employees of the Tokyo-based Sankyo Corp. The suspects reportedly fooled people by examining blood samples under a microscope and telling them that their red blood cells were "clogged." Prospects would then put on the bracelet and be told that their blood flow had improved. The company reportedly took in 2.45 billion yen (about US$21 million) by selling the product to 8,200 people, mostly elderly, at prices ranging from 200,000 to 450,000 yen. ['Good blood' bracelet scam nets seven arrests. Japan Times, Nov 7, 2007] In the United States, similar "live blood analysis" schemes are commonly used to sell dietary supplements. [Barrett S. Live blood cell analysis: Another gimmick to sell you something. Quackwatch, Nov 29, 2006]

Another chelationist loses license. Russell Wayne Hunt, M.D., who operated the Preventive Medicine and Wellness Clinic in Old Hickory, Tennessee, has signed an agreed order under which he surrendered his medical license and was assessed $10,000 in civil penalties, plus costs. These penalties were applied because the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners found him guilty of (a) unprofessional, dishonorable or unethical conduct; (b) making false statements or representations, being guilty of fraud or deceit in obtaining admission to practice, or being guilty of fraud or deceit in the practice of medicine; and (c) conviction of a felony. The unprofessional conduct included treating a patient with chelation therapy, intravenous hydrogen peroxide, and insulin potentiation therapy. His criminal conviction was for conspiring to submit false information to Medicare which paid approximately $92,000 for screening tests that were not medically necessary, were not performed, and/or were miscoded.

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This page was posted on November 7, 2007.