Consumer Health Digest #07-46

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 27, 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.

Report skeptical of common knee-pain treatments. The Agency for Health Quality and Research (AHQR) has published a 270-page review of three treatments for osteoarthritis of the knee: viscosupplementation (hyaluronic acid injections into the knee joint); oral glucosamine and/or chondroitin; and irrigation through a tubular instrument (arthroscope) inserted into the joint. [Samson DJ and others. Treatment of Primary and Secondary Osteoarthritis of the Knee. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 157. AHRQ Publication No. 07-E012. Rockville, MD: AHQR. Sept 2007.] The review concluded:

FTC swats "alternative" hormone replacement products. Several months ago, the FTC warned 34 Web site operators that it knew of no reliable scientific evidence to support any claims that natural progesterone products are safe or effective in preventing osteoporosis, increasing bone density, or preventing or treating cancer, heart disease, or other diseases. After finding that all but seven had modified their sites, it filed complaints against the remaining seven, six of whom have signed consent agreements. [FTC charges seven online sellers of alternative hormone replacement therapy with failing to substantiate products’ health claims. FTC news release, Oct 5, 2007] The six who settled are:

The remaining case is against Syed M. Jafry and his Herbs Nutrition Corporation, which markets Eternal Woman Progesterone Cream, and Pro-Gest Body Cream. It is expected to be tried before an FTC Administrative Law Judge.

Chelation clinic owner sentenced to prison for fraud. Wilson N. Ellis of Hattiesburg, Mississippi was sentenced to six months in prison and six months of home confinement for submitting false claims for Medicare payments. He was also ordered to pay $29,999 in restitution. The indictment states that from 1999 through 2002, he (a) hired doctors to administer chelation therapy at clinics that he owned, (b) submitted claims using improper codes to disguise what they did, and (c) used the doctors' provider numbers to submit claims for treatments performed when the doctors were absent. Medicare does not cover chelation therapy except for certain cases of lead poisoning. The indictment further states that in some cases, Ellis claimed that the patients were suffering from lead poisoning even though he knew or should have known that they were not.

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This page was posted on November 28, 2007.