Consumer Health Digest #12-10
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 22, 2012
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.
FTC targets massive robocall operations. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has successfully sued two broadcasting operations that enabled telemarketers to place hundreds of millions of illegal prerecorded calls to consumers, including more than 20 million who had registered their phone numbers on the National Do Not Call Registry. [FTC takes action to stop massive robocalling operations. FTC news release, Feb 24, 2012] The prerecorded messages included pitches for debt relief services, carpet and upholstery cleaning services, auto warranties, mortgage loan modification and foreclosure assistance, timeshares, satellite dish broadcasting, and burial insurance. One FTC suit charged that Brian Ebersole, Voice Marketing, Inc., and B2B Voice Broadcasting, Inc. provided clients with access to computers, telecommunications services, and automated dialers needed to make thousands of telephone calls simultaneously and deliver more than one million prerecorded messages each day. They also sold access to their voice broadcasting technology through intermediaries (resellers) that sold robocall services under various names. The other FTC suit targeted a reseller: JGRD, Inc. (d/b/a VoiceBlaze) and its principles, Charles Joseph Garis, Jr. and Randall Keith Delp. Both cases were settled with consent agreements under which defendants promised to pay a $10,000 penalty and to ensure that future broadcasts do not violate the Telemarketing Sales Rule. Quackwatch has additional information on robocall broadcasters.
CSPI demands that Amway modify Nutrilite claims. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has threatened to sue Amway if it does not stop making unsubstantiated health and nutrition claims for two of its Nutrilite products. In a letter to Amway's chairman, CSPI stated:
- Amway claims that its “fruits & vegetables 2GO” product line has “2 servings of FRUITS & VEGETABLES” in each twist tube. This claim is deceptive and misleading because dietary supplements simply do not provide the same health benefits as a diet rich in whole fruits and vegetables.
- Amway claims that its “Immunity Twist Tube” product line is an “immune system booster” that will "protect your cells." This claim is unlawful because it is a claim of disease prevention, it lacks prior substantiation, and it is deceptive.
- Amway's labeling and advertising for these products violate federal regulations and consumer protection laws in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Texas, New Jersey, and California.
CSPI's litigation unit has successfully prompted several major food companies, including Quaker, Frito-Lay, Procter & Gamble, Tropicana, and Pinnacle Foods, to halt a variety of misleading labeling or marketing practices. [Amway makes illegal deceptive claims for its Nutrilite Twist Tubes. CSPI news release, Feb 28, 2012]
DMSO prescriber clipped. Last year, Melissa Taliaferro, M.D. signed an agreement with the Arkansas Board of Medical Examiners under which she agreed to stop administering intravenous DMSO to patients unless the FDA or the board authorizes or approves that procedure. In February 2012, based on what had happened in Arkansas, Taliaferro and the Texas Medical Board entered into an agreed order in which she surrendered her Texas medical license to avoid further disciplinary proceedings in Texas.
This page was posted on March 24, 2012.