Consumer Health Digest #11-39

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 24, 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.

New group formed to promote fluoridation. The Campaign for Dental Health, a network of organizations, scientists, and health professionals, has begun its educational efforts to promote fluoridation. Its activities will include educational materials, news about state and local campaigns, and other relevant scientific and political news. Its "Fluoride Myths & Facts" brochure provides useful responses to common anti-fluoride claims.

FDA launches new anti-fraud site. FDA's Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA) has launched a Health Fraud Scams Web site designed to educate the public and regulated industry about health-fraud scams. The site includes newly developed videos, a brochure in English and Spanish, information on compliance actions, press releases, and how to report a problem with an FDA regulated product.

FDA, FTC attack bogus STD preventives. The FDA and FTC have launched a joint effort to stop the marketing of unapproved products claimed to treat, cure, and/or prevent herpes, chlamydia, genital warts, HIV, and/or AIDS. In April, the agencies sent joint warning letters to 12 companies. Consumers should be aware that there are no over-the-counter or online dietary supplements or nonprescription drugs that can treat or prevent sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). [FDA, FTC act to remove fraudulent STD products from the market. FDA news release, May 5, 2011]

AHRQ reviews whole-body vibration devices. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has published a skeptical report on the use of whole-body vibration devices for preventing and treating osteoporosis. The vibrations are generated by motors under the device's platform and transmitted to the person standing on the platform. The FDA has not approved whole-body vibration platforms for medical purposes; therefore, no FDA standards regulate their manufacture and designs vary widely. But the AHRQ report concluded: (a) little research has been done, (b) studies have not addressed potential harms, and (c) beneficial claims should not be made without further research. [Wysocki A and others. Whole body vibration therapy for osteoporosis. AHRQ Technical Brief Number 10, Nov 2011] Some proponents claim that using a whole-body vibration device for as little as three minutes a day will increase bone density and muscle strength and improve balance. The AHRQ report did not evaluate the strength and balance claims.

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This page was posted on November 23, 2011.