Consumer Health Digest #12-17
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 17, 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.
Fluoridated water delivery tops 200 million. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that about 204 million Americans now have access to fluoridated water through their community water systems. Between 2000 and 2010, the percentage with such access rose from 65% to 73.9%. Despite the increase, public health advocates should not feel complacent. During the 1960 through the 1980s, opposition was led by well-financed organizations that made literature and sometimes spokespeople available wherever fluoridation was opposed. Opposition waned during the 1990s but the Internet has enabled scattered opponents to organize and flood legislators with misleading e-mail messages.
Florida suspends stem cell practitioner's license. Zannos G. Grekos, M.D., is facing disciplinary action by the Florida Department of Health. Grekos practices at the Regence Heart and Vascular Institute in Bonita Springs, Florida and directs the Regenocyte Therapeutic Stem Cell Clinical Center in Naples, Florida. The administrative complaint indicates that the Health Department began investigating Grekos in 2010 after one of his patients died following an injection bone marrow material into an artery in her neck. In February 2011, it issued an emergency order prohibiting him from continuing to provide stem cell therapy. The order stated that injection of bone marrow material directly into the carotid artery had "no substantiated medical and scientific value to treat the patient's peripheral neuropathy" and could be "extremely dangerous." A few weeks later, according to a report by CNN Health, the agency summarily suspended Grekos's license, stating that he had violated his restriction by administering stem cell treatments to another patient who had died.
The Regenocyte Web site, which has been online for more than five years, describes the company as "leading the world in regenerative cell therapy." The site also states that patients are evaluated at the Florida clinic and the treatment, which costs from $15,000 to $54,000, is administered at a hospital in the Dominican Republic. However, the Health Department says that in both cases related to the charges, Grekos performed the injections in his Bonita Springs office. Grekos has asked the Florida Court of Appeal to reinstate his license. [Freeman L. Attorney asks court to review Grekos case, reinstate medical license. naplesnews.com. April 30, 2012]
FTC curbs "toning shoes" claims. The Federal Trade Commission has announced that Skechers USA, Inc. has agreed to pay $40 million to settle charges that the company deceived consumers by making unfounded claims that its Shape-ups athletic shoes help people lose weight, and strengthen and tone their buttocks, legs and abdominal muscles. The settlement with the FTC is part of a broader agreement, also being announced today resolving a multi-state investigation, which was led by the Tennessee and Ohio Attorneys General Offices and included attorneys general from 42 other states and the District of Columbia. [Skechers will pay $40 million to settle FTC charges that It deceived consumers with ads for "Toning Shoes." FTC news release, May 16, 2012.
Swiss Government criticized for endorsing homeopathy. Based largely on a favorable report, the Swiss Government has decided to include homeopathy as part of its health service. Proponents are trumpeting the move as evidence that homeopathy is effective. However, as pointed out by Steven Novella, M.D.:
- Political bodies are notoriously unreliable as authorities on scientific controversies. Sometimes they get it right—sometimes they get it horribly wrong. The outcome depends heavily on the ideology and agenda of the people involved and and political forces that are "putting their meaty thumbs on the scale."
- The Swiss government relied heavily on a biased review that was published in 2006 and based on studies through 2003.
- More recent reports, such as the British Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy), are far more comprehensive and more thoroughly assess the range of scientific opinions on the topic.
[Novella S. The Swiss endorse homeopathy. James Randi Educational Foundation Web site, Feb 18, 2012]
This page was posted on May 21, 2012.