Consumer Health Digest #08-27

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 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.

California warns genetic test labs. The California Department of Public Health has ordered 13 laboratories to stop performing genetic testing for California residents until the laboratories meet the requirements specified in state law, which includes federal government standards for tests of moderate or high complexity. Any laboratory offering genetic tests to California residents must be licensed as a clinical laboratory in California, and the tests must be ordered by a licensed physician and validated. The affected laboratories include: 23andMe, CGC Genetics, deCODEme Genetics, DNA Traits, Gene Essence, HairDX LLC, Knome, Navigenics, New Hope Medical, Salugen, Sciona Inc, Smart Genetics, and Suracell Inc. The New York State Health Department has issued similar warnings to 31 labs since November 2007. [Pollack A. Gene testing questioned by regulators. The New York Times, June 26, 2008]

Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic placed on probation. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) has placed Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic on probation. The reasons will not be publicly available until July 2008, but according to a news report, Sherman violated SACS guidelines related to integrity, academic freedom, governing board behavior, and the qualifications of its administrative and academic officers. It was placed on warning status in December 2007. [Barrett S. Sherman Chiropractic College placed on probation. Chirobase, June 29, 2008] Sherman is the most subluxation-based of the U.S. chiropractic schools. Its Web site, which refers to the school as "the vanguard of chiropractic," states:

The goal of straight chiropractic is to correct vertebral subluxations so the nerve system can deliver the right information at the right time in the right amounts to each part of the body. Today, D.D. Palmer’s vision of health care providers trained to remove interference to the nerve system, so the body can strive toward its own potential for physical, mental and social well-being, is being fulfilled at Sherman College of Straight Chiropractic.

"Vertebral subluxations" are nebulous and have not been scientifically defined or demonstrated. [Barrett S. Chiropractic's elusive buzzword. Chirobase, May 23, 2006] Sherman's Web site does not mention its probationary status.

Mother facing criminal prosecution for withholding chemotherapy. Kristin Anne LaBrie of Salem, Massachusetts has pled not guilty to child endangerment charges. Court documents state that she failed to administer prescribed chemotherapy to her 8-year-old son who has non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and that as a result, the boy's prognosis for survival deteriorated from 85-90% two years ago to about 10% today. [Dorning AM. Mom accused of withholding chemo: Police charge mother failed to follow up with outpatient chemo treatments. ABC News, July 2, 2008] The charges were filed after a treating physician asked the Department of Social Services to determine whether Labrie was neglecting her son.

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This page was posted on July 3, 2008.