Consumer Health Digest #11-08

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 7, 2011

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.

FDA warns thermography marketer. The FDA has ordered Central Coast Thermography to stop representing that its FLIR Telethermographic camera is useful as a stand-alone device to diagnose or screen for breast diseases, including cancer. [Silverman S. Warning letter to Central Coast Thermography / Breast Health Imaging Centers, Jan 6, 2011] One blatant statement to which the agency objected was the claim that, "By performing Thermography years before conventional mammography, an at risk patient can be safely monitored and this can increase the patient's treatment options and ultimately improve the outcome." Thermographic devices portray heat emission from body surfaces as images that the practitioner interprets. The images may be in color or in black and white, with each color or shade representing a specific temperature level. The scientific consensus is that thermography adds little to what doctors can readily discern from the patients history, physical examination, and other studies. [Barrett S. A critical look at thermography. Chirobase April 9, 2011]

Irwin Naturals enters $2.65 million settlement. Irwin Naturals, of Los Angeles, CA, has agreed pay $2.65 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the District Attorneys of Orange, Alameda, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Solano, and Sonoma counties. The suit, filed about two years ago, charged that the company:

The settlement requires Irwin to pay $1.95 million in civil penalties, up to $100,000 in restitution to California consumers who did not receive previously request refunds, and $600,000 in investigative costs. Without admitting fault, the company also agreed to injunctive terms that would prevent any future unfair or deceptive business practices. Officials say the outcome is the largest multi-jurisdictional settlement of its kind in California by a dietary supplement manufacturer for unfair business practices. [Dietary supplement distributor to pay $2.65 million to settle historic statewide unfair business practices lawsuit. News release, Orange County District Attorney, Feb 1, 2011]

Discount offered for supplement/herb database subscriptions. The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, which provides the most trustworthy and comprehensive information about dietary supplement and herbal products, is now available in two versions. The consumer version ($49/year) includes ratings on safety and effectiveness for more than 1,000 ingredients and 72,000 commercially available products. The professional version ($92/year) includes an interaction checker, effectiveness checker, nutrient depletion information, links to over 17,000 references, and advanced search features, plus continuing education credit for many types of health professionals. Book and PDA versions are also available. Orders placed through the Quackwatch network receive a 10% discount from these prices.

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This page was posted on April 8, 2011.