Consumer Health Digest #11-12

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 12, 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.

2010 Dietary Guidelines released. The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have released the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal government's nutritional guidance for promoting health, reducing the risk of chronic diseases, and reducing the prevalence of obesity through improved nutrition and physical activity. The report includes 23 "key recommendations" for the general population and 6 additional ones for specific population groups, such as women who are pregnant. The practical tips include:

The new guidelines are similar to past versions but include major policy recommendations intended to help Americans follow the recommendations. The entire report and supporting documents are online.

Bradfords sentenced. Robert W. Bradford, 79, his wife Carole Bradford, C.R.B., Inc. (d/b/a American Biologics), C.R.B.'s chief operating officer Brigitte G. Bird, and John R. Toth, M.D. have been sentenced for conspiring to commit mail fraud and introduce unapproved drugs and a misbranded medical device in interstate commerce. The case centered around the marketing of a microscope used to falsely diagnose Lyme disease and several phony products for treating it. The Bradfords, Byrd, and C.R.B were jointly ordered to pay restitution of $40,372. C.R.B. was fined $1,000 plus a $400 assessment; the others were assessed $100. All were placed on probation—the Bradfords and C.R.B. for 5 years and Byrd for 3. Toth, who has lost his medical license and already served 26 months in prison, was sentenced to time served plus 2 years of supervised release. (In 2008, he was imprisoned for manslaughter related to the death of a woman whom he falsely diagnosed with Lyme disease and treated with a dangerous intravenous bismuth product sold by American Biologics.) C.R.B. was permitted to remain in business but was barred from marketing drugs or medical devices with illegal claims. The court also imposed forfeiture judgments (representing the proceeds obtained by the illegal activity), with Carole Bradford and C.R.B. jointly liable for $700,000, Robert Bradford jointly liable for $400,000, Toth jointly liable for $25,100, and Byrd jointly liable for $10,000.

Robert Bradford, who founded CRB, has a long history of quackery-related activities. He routinely identifies himself as "Dr." and "Professor" but has no relevant degree from an accredited school. In 1977, he was convicted of conspiring to smuggle laetrile (a quack cancer remedy) into the United States. In his presentencing statement, Bradford told the court that he has metastatic prostate cancer and was advised in April 2010 that only 5% of patients with his condition survive three years. Bradford's career is detailed in an article on Quackwatch that links to the relevant law-enforcement documents. Casewatch has additional information on Toth.

Infomercial kingpin may get jailed. Donald W. Barrett., 36, of Plymouth, Massachusetts, has pled guilty to subscribing to a false tax return and misbranding. The criminal information document states:

The plea agreement calls for up to three years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for July 27, 2011.

The Federal Trade Commission has also pursued Barrett. In 2009, a federal judge ordered him, an associate, and the corporations through which they marketed their products to (a) pay $48.2 million, (b) refrain from making unsubstantiated claims, and (c) refrain from unauthorized billing.

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This page was posted on May 13, 2011.