Consumer Health Digest #08-14

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 1, 2008

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.

State officials urge FDA to curb bogus "energy medicine" devices. Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna and State Department of Health Secretary Mary Selecky have asked the FDA to block the sale and distribution of unproven and dangerous "energy medicine" devices. The devices included EPFX: NES, E-Lybra, LSA Biofeedback, QXCI/SCIO, Life System, CoRe, Oberon, Mars, Quantec, Metascan, Etascan, SCENAR, ACUSEN, Interx: VEGA, Prognos, Biomeridian, Rife, Bicom, BioPuslar, Mitosan Therapy, Bodyscan, Zappers, F-Scan, Q2, Syncrometer, Magnagraph, Merid, NES, Acusense, Listen, EQ4, Orion, Explorer, Computron, Elision, Interro, Interactive Query System, MORA, Matrix Physique System, Propylene, Punts III, and Vitel. An FDA official replied that the agency has increased its surveillance of Internet promotion and advertising.

Australian group debunks "alternative" allergy treatments. The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy ASCIA) has updated its position statement on more than 25 nonstandard allergy techniques. The topics include inappropriate testing, inappropriate use of conventional testing, inappropriate use of conventional treatments, and unorthodox treatments. [Unorthodox techniques for the diagnosis and treatment of allergy, asthma and immune disorders, ASCIA, Nov 2007]

Chelation drug withdrawn. Hospira, Inc., has announced that it will no longer market Endrate, a disodium edetate product used by chelation therapists. In a recall notice, the company stated: Hospira is aware of published reports of fatal medication errors associated with the off-label use of Edetate Disodium. Based on the limited indications for Endrate and the availability of alternate medical products, the product is no longer medically necessary." One other manufacturer (Bioniche) markets a generic version of disodium edetate that is listed in the FDA's Orange Book as an approved drug that is legal to market. However, most of the preparations used by chelation therapists are sold by compounding pharmacies that cater to "alternative" practitioners. Some of these vendors appear to selling “house brands” of disodium edetate that lack FDA approval. Chelation therapy critics believe that all sales of disodium edetate should be stopped. [Barrett S. Baratz RS. FDA issues chelation therapy warning. Chelation Watch, March 30, 2008]

Court permits suits against Quixtar to proceed. A federal court judge has ruled that three suits against Quixtar and several high level distributors can go forward. The suits charged Quixtar and several of its high-level distributors with fraud. The defendants asked the court to dismiss the suits on grounds that Quixtar's distributor agreements call for binding arbitration of disputes. However, the judge concluded that the terms of the arbitration process were "unconscionable" and therefore unenforceable.

Hospital evaluation database posted. Hospital Compare provides information on how well the hospitals care for all their adult patients with certain conditions or procedures. The database is a joint project of of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Health and Human Services, and other members of the Hospital Quality Alliance. The data, which were provided primarily by hospitals, include the results of patient surveys.

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This page was posted on April 2, 2008.