Consumer Health Digest #11-35

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
October 20, 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.

Bariatric surgeon/entrepreneur disciplined again. The Texas Medical Board has disciplined Richard A. Carter D.O. for the third time. In 2006, the the board and Carter entered into an agreed order under which he paid an administrative penalty of $1,000 and was required to complete 10 hours of continuing medical education in the area of medical records and charting. The action was based on allegations that he had failed to meet the standard of care by leaving a sponge in the abdomen during an operation in which part of a patient's intestine was removed. In 2009, the board ordered Carter to pay a $5,000 administrative fine and refrain from making misleading claims about himself and AmazeRx, a meal-replacement product he has been promoting. The board action resulted from a complaint about infomercial and Web site advertising which claimed that the product could cause weight loss of up to a pound a day and failed to clearly state that the people who gave testimonials to that effect had undergone bariatric surgery. The order prohibited any statements or claims that (a) he is "America's weight loss doctor," (b) he is one of the most successful bariatric surgeons in the nation, and (c) the product will cure fatty livers and/or nutritional cirrhosis." He was also prohibited from making any other misleading claims about immediate results or long-term sustainability or how post-bariatric surgical patients compare to the general population. In 2011, Carter and the board entered into an agreed order requiring him to pay a $1000 administrative fine and complete continuing medical education that includes 5 hours in medical record-keeping, 5 hours in risk management and 10 hours in physician/patient communication. The Board found Carter did not adequately document his rationale for the timing for removal of a patient's lap band or that he had counseled the patient. The AmazeRx home page still offers weight-loss claims without indicating that the patients had lap-band surgery. The Web site is registered to a Texas company that markets the products from Arizona. Corporate records from the Texas Department of State do not list Carter as a company owner or indicate whether he has a financial connection to product sales.

British ad regulators object to thermography claims. The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ordered The Homeopathic Clinic (Liverpool) to stop claiming that Digital Thermal Imaging (DITI) is an effective tool in breast cancer detection. The ASA objected to claims that:

The clinic operators, Phil and Rosa Hughes, are not physicians. The ASA said the ad was "irresponsible" because it could discourage women from attending routine screenings (mammography) for a condition for which medical supervision should be sought. [ASA Adjudication on The Homeopathic Clinic, Oct 19, 2011]

Fibromyalgia clinic chain gets warning letter. The FDA has ordered Chronicity Inc. to stop making illegal claims that dietary supplements it sells are effective against fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, hormonal dysfunction, and/or fatigue-related conditions. Chronicity, formerly named Fibromyalgia and Fatigue Centers, states on its Web site that there are 4 or 5 causes common to the vast majority of fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue patients and that "we've proven that we know how to zero in on and eliminate or manage these causes." Its Web site lists 13 clinics in 11 states. Its name change was done recently when the company added service for medically supervised weight loss and "optimizing hormone balance and vitality in mid-life." The organization's medical director, Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., resides in Hawaii. At least seven of the physicians who have worked at one of the centers have been subjected to one or more licensing board actions.

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This page was revised on October 23, 2011.