Consumer Health Digest #11-30
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 15, 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.
Judge blocks Florida gun-education gag law. A federal judge has issued a preliminary injunction that blocks implementation of a law that would interfere with the ability of doctors to educate patients about gun safety. The U.S. Preventive Task Force and many medical groups recommend counseling about firearms as part of appropriate preventive care. The Florida law, H.B. 155, which was strongly backed by the National Rifle Association would make doctors subject to disciplinary action if they discuss or record information in a patient's chart about firearm safety that the medical board later determined was not "relevant" or was "unnecessarily harassing." However, the law did not define these terms. The suit to block the law was filed by the Florida chapters of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians, and American College of Physicians with help from the Brady Center to Prevent Handgun Violence. The injunction is temporary, but the judge concluded that the plaintiffs are likely to win if the case proceeds further.
Appeals court upholds Texas anti-solicitation statute. The U.S. Court of Appeals has upheld a Texas law (H.B. 148) that makes it a crime for lawyers or health professionals to solicit automobile crash victims within the first 30 days of an accident. The Texas Committee on Insurance Fraud hailed the ruling as "a giant step toward eliminating frivolous lawsuits and questionable medical treatment" and expressed hope that it would ultimately result in lower insurance rates. After H.B. 148 was enacted, an attorney and a chiropractor persuaded a U.S. District Court judge to block its implementation, but the Appeals Court ruling permits it to take effect. During the lower court proceedings, the Director of Enforcement at the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners testified that many automobile accident victims had complained about solicitation by chiropractors directly following the accidents.
Stem cell antifraud suggestions published. Two prominent bioethicists are urging stem-cell researchers to become become proactive in combating stem-cell fraud worldwide. [Master Z, Resnick DB. Stem-cell tourism and scientific responsibility: Stem-cell researchers are in a unique position to curb the problem of stem-cell tourism. EMBO Reports. July 29, 2011] In an online article, the bioethicists noted:
- With a few exceptions—such as the use of bone-marrow blood-forming cells to treat leukemia—novel stem-cell therapies are often unproven in clinical trials
- Even well-proven therapies can lead to tumor formation, tissue rejection, autoimmunity, permanent disability and death.
- The risks of unproven and unregulated therapies are potentially much worse.
- Many of the private clinics that offer stem-cell treatments are relatively small and depend on acquiring resources from scientists working in the field.
- Stem-cell scientists can help to address the problem of "stem-cell tourism" by refusing to share cell lines or other materials with anyone who appears to be behaving irresponsibly.
This page was revised on September 17, 2011.