Consumer Health Digest #11-23
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 28, 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.
Ernst blasts NCCAM-funded research. Edzard Ernst, M.D., Ph.D. and colleagues have sharply criticized NCCAM-funded research into herbs, chiropractic manipulation, and "energy medicine." In each case they examined the outcomes and experimental design of the relevant randomized, controlled trials. They concluded:
- Twenty-seven studies had looked at herbal substances. Nearly all were poorly designed and/or improperly reported. Only 4 had found a positive result, but the NCCAM Web site continued to promote some of the substances despite negative research findings. [Ernst E and others. NCCAM-funded RCTs of herbal medicines: An independent, critical assessment. Verlag Perfusion GmbH 24:89-102, 2011]
- Ten studies had tested chiropractic spinal manipulation. Only one had a positive outcome, and all of the studies were poorly designed and/or improperly reported. Because the fundamental concepts of chiropractic are biologically implausible, they recommended that (a) future studies be funded by the chiropractic profession rather than U.S. taxpayers, (b) investigations should aim to test the plausibility of chiropractic's main principles, and (c) measures be taken to ensure that the studies are conducted properly. [Ernst E, Posadzki P. An independent review of NCCAM-funded studies of chiropractic. Clinical Rheumatology 30:593-600, 2011]
- Five studies were related to "energy medicine." The modalities included reiki, qigong, distant healing, and Johrei healing. Three of the studies reported beneficial effects, but these studies were poorly designed and therefore untrustworthy. The two studies that were well-designed failed to demonstrate effects from "energy" in healing. ("Energy medicine" is based on the notion that various healers can exert beneficial effects by manipulating nonmeasurable "energy fields. The Jyorei Web site describes Jyorei as "a healing art that uses divine light to dissolve the spiritual impurities that are the source of all physical, emotional, and personal problems.") [Seip RJ, Ernst E. An independent review of studies of 'energy medicine' funded by the US National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies 16:106-109, 2011]
Ernst and his colleagues want NCCAM to stop funding poor-quality studies of implausible practices and to provide consumers with clear and reliable information based on clinical trials of good methodological quality. Dr. Stephen Barrett, who characterizes NCCAM a cancer of the medical educational system, wants NCCAM to stop pretending that implausible practices might be useful and stop funding educational programs (in medical schools and elsewhere) that make the same pretense. [Barrett S. NCCAM studies of "energy medicine" are a waste of money. NCCAM Watch, July 28, 2011]
California will pay former chiropractic board administrator for alleged unjust firing. The State of California will pay $600,000 to Catherine Hayes to settle a lawsuit which charged that she was fired as executive director of the state Board of Chiropractic Examiners for helping the San Joaquin District Attorney's office investigate chiropractic insurance fraud. The accused defendants included board members Richard Tyler, D.C. and Francesco Columbu, D.C., both of whom had been appointed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tyler, who was board chairman, had been Schwarzenegger's personal chiropractor. Columbu, a prominent bodybuilder, had served as best man at Schwarzenegger's wedding to Maria Shriver. In 2008, the California State Auditor released a lengthy report that accused the chiropractic board of dragging its heels on consumer complaints, violating open meeting laws, and taking other inappropriate actions. The Hayes case was the second lawsuit alleging harassment by the chiropractic board. Last year, Carole Arbuckle became entitled to receive $1.175 million in damages after the California Supreme Court upheld an award by a jury which concluded that in 2001, board administrators had treated her unfairly for reporting that the then-board chairman Sharon Ufberg, D.C., had allowed her chiropractic license to lapse.[Dolan M. Whistle-blowers get protection from Calif. Supreme Court. Los Angeles Times, Feb 27, 2009]
Homeopathic pharmacy ordered to stop making unsubstantiated vaccine claims. The British Advertising Standards Authority has ordered the Ainsworths Homeopathic Pharmacy to stop claiming that its homeopathic travel kit can protect against diseases such as typhoid, diphtheria, tetanus, polio, yellow fever, meningitis, Japanese encephalitis, tick-borne encephalitis, dengue fever, and malaria and that homeopathic products offer an effective alternative to standard immunization. The ASA's decision is posted to Casewatch.
PharmacyChecker issues price alerts. PharmacyChecker.com, which evaluates online pharmacies and makes price comparison easy, also enables its users to to receive alerts of the latest prices of the drugs that interest them. To set up an alert, choose drug to compare prices and click the appropriate link when the information displays.
This page was posted on July 29, 2011.