Consumer Health Digest #09-30

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 23, 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.

Acai marketing scheme attacked. Austin Hilton, of Arlington, Texas, has signed a consent agreement under which his companies must stop shipping unauthorized orders, refrain from making false health claims, clearly disclose their terms of service to future purchasers, and provide refunds to customers who were overcharged for products. The agreement also calls for payment of $200,000 in civil penalties plus $6,200 for the State's investigative costs and attorney's fees. Doing business as FX,, and Hilton HG, LTD, Hilton claimed that his acai berry supplements can reduce the risk of heart attack, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancers, and could limit premature aging. The companies also claimed that their Acai Berry Maxx product was “naturally potent in antioxidants” and could flush up to 30 pounds of waste and toxins from the body. During the past year, the Fort Worth Better Business Bureau received more than 500 complaints about the company. The complaint and consent judgment are posted to Casewatch.

Another offbeat Texas doctor charged with unprofessional conduct. Robert M. Battle, M.D., of Houston, Texas, is facing disciplinary action related to his management of a patient ("M.S.") who consulted him for anxiety, depression, and hot flashes. The Medical Board of Texas has accused Battle of relying on "junk science" to support his medical diagnosis and treatment. The challenged methods included inappropriate pH testing, dietary supplements, herbs, and "bio-identical hormones." The board's complaint states:

Respondent's action in this case is below the standard of care due to one or more of the following: failure to treat the patient according to the generally accepted standard of care; failure to use diligence in one's practice; failure to perform an appropriate assessment of M.S.'s complaints, failure to maintain adequate medical records, including requirements when using complementary/alternative medicine therapy; and using non-therapeutic treatments. Respondent's medical decision-making and treatment lacks any proven medical basis or general acceptance in the medical/scientific community.

Battle does business as the Comprehensive Health Association. His Web site states that since 1984 he "has focused attention on treating the cause of disease as opposed to merely treating symptoms."

Alberta health plan drops chiropractic services. On July 1, 2009, the Alberta (Canada) Health Care Insurance Plan stopped paying for chiropractic services. During the 2007/2008 year, the the plan paid up to $14 for a chiropractic visit and $23.19 for an x-ray, with an annual patient limit of $200. The policy change is expected to save the province approximately $53 million per year. [Sinnema J. Chiropractic care delisted from Alberta health plan. Edmonton Journal, April 7, 2009]

Quackwatch passes 10-million mark. Quackwatch's home page counter has registered more than 10 million hits since the site's launching in January 1997. The 23-site anti-quackery network now logs over 100,000 home-page hits per month. The number of visitors reaching the sites through the network's 4,600 interior pages has not been tabulated.

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This page was posted on July 23, 2009.