Consumer Health Digest #09-13

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 26, 2009

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.

QVC hit again for false advertising. QVC, Inc., a TV home shopping channel and one of the world’s largest multimedia retailers, has agreed to pay $7.5 million to settle FTC charges that it made false and unsubstantiated claims about four products. The agency charged that QVC violated a 2000 FTC order barring it from making deceptive claims for dietary supplements. According to the Commission, QVC aired approximately 200 programs in which false and unsubstantiated claims were made about For Women Only weight-loss pills; Lite Bites weight-loss food bars and shakes; and Bee-Alive Royal Jelly "energy supplements." In addition, the complaint charged that QVC violated Section 5 of the FTC Act by making unsubstantiated claims about Lipofactor Cellulite Target Lotion. The settlement requires QVC to pay $6 million for consumer redress and a $1.5 million civil penalty. In addition, the settlement expands the prior FTC order and further bars QVC from making unsubstantiated claims that any drug or cosmetic eliminates or reduces a user’s cellulite. [QVC to pay $7.5 million to settle charges that it aired deceptive claims. FTC news release, March 19, 2009]

Insurance sting nabs eight chiropractors. The Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) has charged eight chiropractors, an attorney, and three office employees with illegal patient referral and insurance overbilling schemes. They were caught in Operation K-Fraud (Knockout Fraudulent Attorneys and Unscrupulous Doctors), an undercover operation coordinated by the OCDA’s Insurance Fraud Unit and Gatekeepers Insurance Fraud Team (GIFT), which investigates providers suspected of defrauding insurance companies. Using a list compiled by the National Insurance Crime Bureau, the OCDA sent letters inviting 248 providers suspected of fraudulent practices to participate in a scheme in which they would pay up to 30% of billings in exchange for referrals. The investigators then set up a phony law office where they explained how the scheme would work. Other investigators visited chiropractors posing as “patients,” who were suffering from soft tissue injuries from car accidents. The 12 suspects were arrested after they overbilled insurance companies and/or paid kickbacks for the referrals. If convicted, they could be sentenced to prison for several years. [Chiropractors, attorney, and office employees charged in sweep of illegal referral and overbilling scheme. OCDA press release, Feb 4, 2009]

New insurance fraud newsletter available. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud has launched Fraud News Daily, a free e-mail newsletter that covers all aspects of insurance fraud—property/casualty, health, life, disability, legislation, regulation and technology—plus direct news from insurers, fraud bureaus, and prosecutors. Each story contains a direct link to the original source.

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This page was posted on March 26, 2009.