Consumer Health Digest #11-09
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 14, 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.
Donsbach headed to prison. Kurt Donsbach, 75, whose criminal career has spanned 40 years, has been sentenced to a year in prison to be followed by ten years of probation, during which he is prohibited from representing himself as a doctor, chiropractor, or health practitioner. Last December, Donsbach pleaded guilty to 13 felony charges, including practicing medicine without a license and selling misbranded drugs. The judge also fined him $60,000. [Bonita man who posed as doctor sentenced, fined. San Diego News, April 15, 2011] Quackwatch has a detailed account of Donsbach's career.
Bogus "gluten-free" bread seller gets long prison sentence. Paul Evan Seelig, 48, who operated the Great Specialty Bread Company in Durham, North Carolina has been sentenced to 9 to 11 years in prison for selling products falsely labeled as gluten-free. During his trial, 23 former customers—many of whom have celiac disease and must avoid foods that contain gluten—testified that they became ill after eating his bread. [Davis S. Durham bread company owner sentenced for fraud. WRAL.com, April 12, 2011] In 2009, after several customers complained, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture tested bread samples and found they contained more than 5,000 parts per million of gluten. Investigators also found that Seelig was buying ordinary bread from a bakery in New Jersey through a third party and reselling it as gluten-free bread. In 2010, shortly before Seelig was arrested, a North Carolina judge ordered him and his company to stop misrepresenting the gluten content of any food products. [Weigl A. Bread seller arrested on fraud charges. Raleigh News and Observer, Feb 3, 2010] Jason Janoski, while a student at The Pennsylvania State University's Dickinson School of Law, wrote a detailed account of Seelig's prosecution and the need for increased government regulation of "gluten-free" claims.
Doctor marketing through phantom "institute" charged with misleading advertising. Andrew P. Jones, M.D. is facing disciplinary action by the Texas Medical Board in connection with his marketing of products through the Internet. In 2006, Jones began operating a Web site under the name "Women's Health Institute of Texas" through which he markets books and dietary supplement with extravagant claims. The products are marketed by Natural Living Inc, which has a Nevada address. The board's complaint states:
- The advertisements promised a quick and complete cure, creating unjustified expectations about the results of using the recommended products.
- Jones failed to disclose that he was the president and has a financial interest in Natural Living Inc.
- In 2008, when Jones renewed his license, he falsely represented that he was still in active practice even though he had stopped seeing patients in 2006.
- Images of a large office building and interior space were represented as photos of the physical location of the institute. However, the institute had no physical facility.
Jones's initial focus was on migraine headaches. His current offerings cover premenstrual syndrome (PMS, depression, menopause, vitamin D, thyroid problems, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The address Jones uses for his "institute" is a rented mailbox at the Postnet store in Sugar Land, Texas. The Better Business Bureau has given "F" ratings to both Women's Health Institute of Texas and Natural Living Inc., for repeated failure to respond to complaints.
In June 2010, the Texas Board ordered Jones to pay a $1,000 administrative penalty for failing to give the board a patient's medical and billing records when ordered to do so by the board.
This page was revised on April 17, 2011.