Consumer Health Digest #10-51

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 23, 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.

Classic "organic food" hearing transcript posted. The transcript of the 1972 Public Hearing in the Matter of Organic Foods, held by New York State Attorney General Louis Lefkowitz, has been posted to Quackwatch. Its highlights include:

Echinacea flunks another test. A randomized controlled clinical trial has found no evidence that taking echinacea will modify the symptoms or duration of the common cold. The trial involved more than 700 patients, ages 12 to 80, who received either no pills, placebo pills, echinacea pills without being told what they were, or echinacea pills that were identified as such. The study found no significant difference in outcome between echinacea and placebo treatment. [Barrett B. and others. Echinacea for treating the common cold. A randomized trial. Annals of Internal Medicine 153:769-777, 2010]

Doctor who hassled whistleblowers arrested. Rolando Arafiles, Jr., M.D. has been charged with "misuse of official information" and "retaliation," both of which are 3rd degree felonies. In 2009, after learning that the Texas Medical Board was investigating him, Arafiles improperly gave information about ten patients to his local sheriff and asked him to find out who had complained to the Board. After the sheriff did so, the nurses were fired by their hospital the county attorney persuaded a grand jury to indict them for misuse of official information. The charge against one of the nurses was dropped shortly before trial; the other was acquitted by the jury. The Texas Board has charged Arafiles with improperly treating nine patients and attempting to intimidate the nurses. Quackwatch has further details about the controversy.

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This page was posted on December 23, 2010.