Consumer Health Digest #08-20
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 13, 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.
NIH chelation research project blasted. Medscape General Medicine has published a book-length report that calls for immediate termination of the National Institutes of Health's ongoing study of chelation therapy. [Atwood KA and others. Why the NIH Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) should be abandoned. Medscape Journal of Medicine 10(5):115, 2008] The $30 million clinical trial, which began in 2003 and is scheduled for completion in 2009, is intended to test whether intravenous disodium EDTA is effective against coronary artery disease. The report concludes:
- There is no reliable preliminary evidence or logical reason to believe that the treatment will work.
- Chelation proponents used political connections to pressure the NIH to fund the study.
- The application for the trial misrepresented previous data and concealed evidence of risks.
- The study lacks precautions necessary to minimize risks.
- The consent form reflects these shortcomings and fails to disclose apparent proprietary interests.
- Many of the doctors administering the chelation therapy have been in regulatory trouble and are untrustworthy.
- The trial's outcome will be unreliable and almost certainly equivocal, thus defeating the study's stated purpose.
Chelation therapy provider under investigation. The Orlando Sentinel has reported that investigators from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services raided and searched the offices of Robert J. Rogers, M.D., who operates Advanced Medical Practices in Longwood, Florida. The probe was said to involve billings for chelation therapy and other "alternative" practices. [Leusner J. Doctor's office is searched in billing probe. Orlando Sentinel, April 18, 2008]
FTC curbs "smoking cessation" patch promotion. The U.S. Federal Trade commission has charged Kenneth Chan and Albert Chen and their companies (NextClick Media, LLC and Next Internet, LLC) with improper billing and making unsubstantiated claims for herbal "smoking cessation" patches. The products include Nicocure, Stop Smoking 180, and Zero Nicotine. All three products were claimed to be more effective than nicotine-based products. Nicocure and Stop Smoking 180 were claimed to have a 97% effectiveness rate and to enable smokers to quit permanently. According to the FTC, the defendants offered “free trials” of the products but made unauthorized shipments and debited buyers' bank accounts without authorization. The defendants have agreed to a stipulated injunction that bars them from continuing the challenged practices. [“Free trial” smoking cessation patch promoter halts deceptive practices; Trials weren’t free, patches didn’t work as claimed. FTC news release, May 7, 2008] The Better Business Bureau, which has received more than 100 complaints, has given NextClick Media an unsatisfactory rating.
This page was posted on May 13, 2008.