Consumer Health Digest #11-43

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 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.

High-profile chiropractor facing legal actions. The Colorado State Board of Chiropractic Examiners has filed a complaint charging Denver-based Brandon Credeur, D.C., with (a) false, misleading, and unethical advertising, (b) abandoning a patient, (c) ordering and performing unnecessary tests, and (d) practicing outside the scope of his license in connection with his dealings with five patients. Credeur, who does business as the Functional Endocrinology Institute of Colorado, represents himself as "uniquely skilled and experienced at treating the root physiological, biochemical and hormonal imbalances associated with Type II Diabetes and Hypothyroidism." A typical course of treatment, which includes a diet and dietary supplements, costs several thousand dollars.

In April, Denver's ABC News, aired a critical broadcast that triggered more than 100 calls and complaints. In subsequent broadcasts, the station's CALL7 news team reported that more than a dozen patients are suing Credeur and that the state Attorney General is investigating whether Credeur should be charged with practicing medicine without a license. The TV reports also describe how Credeur has been marketing his program to chiropractors with glowing reports about its profitability. The full flavor of his activities has been described in a series of reports on the Denver ABC News Web site:

Medical Letter summarizes vitamin supplement strategy. The Medical Letter on Drugs and Therapeutics has updated its review on appropriate use of vitamin supplements. [Who should take vitamin supplements? Medical Letter 53:101-103, 2011] The article concludes:

FTC concerned about unregulatable Internet expansion. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has urged the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to slow down its announced plan that could make hundreds of new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) available. (There are now 22.) In a letter to ICANN's top officials, the FTC stated:

A rapid, exponential expansion of gTLDs has the potential to magnify both the abuse of the domain name system and the corresponding challenges we encounter in tracking down Internet fraudsters. In particular, the proliferation of existing scams, such as phishing, is likely to become a serious challenge given the infinite opportunities that scam artists will now have at their fingertips. Fraudsters will be able to register misspellings of businesses, including financial institutions, in each of the new gTLDs, create copycat websites, and obtain sensitive consumer data with relative ease before shutting down the site and launching a new one. The potential for consumer confusion in other variations of these types of scams is significant. As an example, "ABC bank" could be registered in .com, but another entity could register "ABC" in a new .bank gTLD, and a different entity could register "ABC" in a new .finance gTLD. Scam artists could easily take advantage of this potential for confusion to defraud consumers.

The letter also urged ICANN to curb the ability of scammers to register domains without revealing who they are. [FTC warns that rapid expansion of Internet domain name system could leave consumers more vulnerable to online fraud. FTC news release, Dec 16, 2011]

NAS issues oral health report. The Institute of Medicine has issued a 266-page report—Advancing Oral Health in America—to help the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services decide where to focus its efforts on oral health. The report advises HHS to: (a) focus on prevention, (2) enhance the oral health workforce, and (3) expand research. The full text can be downloaded free of charge from the National Academy of Sciences Web site.

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