Consumer Health Digest #10-28

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 22, 2010

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.

Prince Charles's "integrative medicine" foundation shuts down. The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health shut down operations on April 30th. The foundation was an independent charity that supported the integration"of "alternative and complementary medicine" into the British National Health Service (NHS). The closure came amid accusations of misuse of charity status. The Guardian reported that the Department of Health paid the foundation £1.1million to advise on the regulation of massage, aromatherapy, reflexology and related therapies as Prince Charles personally lobbied health ministers to use the treatments throughout the NHS. After Professor Edzard Ernst said the advisory report draft was "outrageous and deeply flawed," foundation staff members complained to the University that funded Ernst's work. The Charity Commission, which regulates charities in England and Wales, was asked to investigate allegations that the foundation may have breached charity regulations by pursuing a "vendetta" against Ernst. [Booth R. Prince Charles health charity accused of vendetta against critic., March 19, 2010] A separate police investigation led to the arrest of finance director, George Gray, who was charged with charged with theft, fraud and money laundering. [Booth R. Chelsea barracks trial shines light on Prince Charles's interference: Case exposes secret strategies used by 'meddling prince' to intervene in public affairs., June 25, 2010] The ebm-first Web site has abundant information about the foundation's activities.

Glucosamine flunks yet another test. A study of 662 people with moderate-to-severe knee osteoarthritis who were followed for two years found that glucosamine was not more effective than a placebo. The study compared the pain levels of patients who received either glucosamine; chondroitin sulfate; glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate combined; celecoxib (Celebrex); or a placebo. No significant differences were found among the groups. [Sawitzke AD and others. Clinical efficacy and safety of glucosamine, chondroitin sulphate, their combination, celecoxib or placebo taken to treat osteoarthritis of the knee: 2-year results from GAIT. Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. 2010. Jun 4] This is the second negative major report published this year. Although some studies of glucosamine supplements have been positive, the best-designed ones have been negative. [Barrett S. Glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis: Benefit is unlikely. Quackwatch, July 8, 2010]

Boyd Haley agrees to stop OSR#1 sales. In response to an FDA warning letter, Boyd E. Haley, Ph.D. has announced that he and his company (CTI Science) will stop selling OSR#1 on July 29th. OSR#1 contains an industrial chemical called N,N'-bis(2-mercaptoethyl)isophthalamide. In January 2010, the Chicago Tribune reported that the chemical is part of a family of chelators developed for industrial purposes [Tsouderos T. OSR#1: Industrial chemical or autism treatment? Chicago Tribune, Jan 17, 2010] Literature on the CTI Web site has suggested that OSR#1 is effective against thyroid conditions, hypertension, and diabetes. However, its main target market appears to be parents of autistic children. During the past two years, Haley has promoted OSR at conferences and indicated that it would initially be supplied only through doctors who treat autistic children. Last month, the FDA warned Haley that claims for the product make it subject to drug regulation (which would be illegal without FDA approval) and that it cannot be sold as a dietary supplement because it is not a food component. Announcing the July 29th shutdown date enables the practitioners who dispense OSR to stock up while the opportunity remains. [Boyd Haley finally does the right thing, but is it for the wrong reasons. Respectful Insolence blog, July 23, 2010] Autism Watch has additional information about OSR#1.

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This page was revised on July 23, 2010.