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:
- Viscosupplementation trials generally report positive effects on pain and function scores compared to placebo, but the evidence on clinical benefit is uncertain, due to variable trial quality, potential publication bias, and unclear clinical significance of the reported changes.
- The Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial, a large, high-quality, multicenter study found no significant difference between glucosamine hydrochloride and placebo. Glucosamine sulfate has been reported to be more effective, but the evidence is not sufficient to draw conclusions.
- The best available study of arthroscopy found that irrigation with or without debridement (cleaning out deteriorated tissue) was equivalent to placebo. However, this trial involved only a single surgeon at one clinic.
- The three interventions are widely used, yet the best available evidence does not clearly demonstrate clinical benefit.
- Uncertainty regarding benefit can be resolved only by rigorous, multicenter, randomized controlled trials. Given the public health impact of osteoarthritis of the knee, research on new approaches to prevention and treatment should be given high priority.
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:
- Elation Therapy, Inc. / Robert Rutledge: Elation Therapy Natural Progesterone Cream
- Health Science International, Inc. / David Martin: Serenity for Women Natural Progesterone Cream
- Progesterone Advocates Network / Shelly Black: Nature's Precise Cream
- Springboard and Pro Health Labs / Lawrence A. Jordan and Stephanie L. Jordan: ProBalance, ProBalance Plus
- The Green Willow Tree LLC / Robert Burns: Progesta Care Plus, Restored Balance
- Women’s Menopause Health Center / Merilou Barnekow: Preserve Progesterone Cream, Return to Eden Progesterone Cream
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.
This page was posted on November 28, 2007.