Consumer Health Digest #12-19
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 7, 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.
Resveratrol researcher accused of falsifying data. The University of Connecticut has concluded that Dipak K. Das, Ph.D., a professor in its Department of Surgery and director of the Cardiovascular Research Center, was guilty of 145 counts of fabrication and falsification of data and that the university had notified eleven journals about this problem [Scientific journals notified following research misconduct investigation. UConn Today, Jan 12, 2012]. In recent years, Das had gained attention for his reports on allegedly beneficial properties of resveratrol. As of June 2012, four of the journals have retracted twelve of his papers, many of which were repeatedly cited by others [Oransky I. Retraction count for resveratrol researcher Dipak Das rises to 12. Retraction Watch Web site, June 3, 2012]. In 2011, a systematic review with 21 co-authors concluded that, "the published evidence is not sufficiently strong to justify a recommendation for the administration of resveratrol to humans, beyond the dose which can be obtained from dietary sources." [Vang O and others. What is new for an old molecule? Systematic review and recommendations on the use of resveratrol. PloS One 6(6): e19881. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019881, 2011] Curiously, Das was one of the co-authors. Quackwatch has additional information about resveratrol.
Plavix discount program improperly advertised. Now that the patent for Plavix has expired, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Sanofi have begun offering a program that supposedly enables uninsured consumers to get brand-name Plavix for $37 per month, which is about 1/6th of cost through regular channels. (Plavix, which inhibits blood clots in people with cardiovascular disease, is one of world's top-selling drugs, with total sales in 2010 of about $9.4 billion.) However, the Plavix Choice program appears to have serious problems in its implementation:
- Prospective enrollees are directed to a Web site that describes the program and enables them to begin the registration process. The first step is to obtain and activate a Plavix Choice Card. However, the online activation process leads only to an error message.
- Medicare recipients who lack drug coverage can get printable Choice Care cards but when they phone to activate they are told they are not eligible.
- Eligible persons who elect to get monthly shipments by mail may need to wait several weeks for the first shipment.
- The Web site lists participating pharmacies, but pharmacists at the largest vendor (Walgreens) have said they have not heard of the program.
Dr. Stephen Barrett would like to hear from people who have had any experience with this program.
Supplement violator may curb sales. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram has reported that Valerie Saxion will stop selling dietary supplements within Texas. [Barbee D. Fort Worth supplement firm sued by AG is ceasing sales in Texas. Star-Telegram, June 8, 2012] Saxon, who refers to herself as a naturopath, has for many years sold supplement products with claims that they were effective against many types of diseases. The products were sold under the brand name "Alternative Health Labs." In August 2011, the Texas Attorney General filed a lawsuit which stated:
- Saxion's naturopathic credential was obtained from Clayton College of Natural Health, a nonaccredited correspondence school.
- Because Texas law bans commercial use of such degrees, her "Dr." in advertising or labeling has violated Texas law.
- Many of her products were marketed with explicit claims that they are effective against disease,which is also illegal.
The suit asks the court to issue an injunction and assess financial penalties.
This page was posted on June 10, 2012.