Consumer Health Digest #12-24

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 12, 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.

UK clamping down on homeopathy advertising. The British Advertising Standards Authority has announced that it has received so many complaints about homeopathic advertising that it does not need to receive more. The ASA usually deals with one advertiser at a time. Now, however, they are warning advertisers to stop making efficacy claims without "robust evidence" to back them up and are monitoring Web sites to see whether the necessary changes have been made. [Complaints about homeopathy websites. ASA Web site, accessed July 1, 2012] Meanwhile, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)—the industry group that writes the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing to which advertisers must adhere—has issued a Guidance for Advertising of Homeopathic Services, which warns against making unsubstantiated claims and notes that all homeopathic products must be registered before marketing.

Canadian antiquackery group launched. Bad Science Watch, a new nonprofit advocacy group, will challenge the Canadian government to stick to science in developing and implementing important policy decisions. It expects to serve as a key Canadian lobbying organization in challenging lax consumer protection measures and fighting for the right of Canadians to accurate information when making decisions that affect their health, prosperity, and well-being. Its initial targets will include bogus food-intolerance testing in Canadian drugstores. Unlike the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, Canada does almost nothing to protect its citizens from fraud in the health marketplace.

Geier's troubles increase. Mark R. Geier, M.D., whose license was summarily suspended in April 2011, has been charged with practicing in violation of the suspension order. Meanwhile nine of the ten states that had licensed Geier have have suspended his license until the Maryland board decides how to deal with the charges that triggered the emergency suspension.

Brand-name Plavix now available at bargain price. Now that the patent for Plavix has expired, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and Sanofi are inviting uninsured consumers to get brand-name Plavix for $37 per month, which is about 1/6th of its usual cost and is less than most generic versions. (Plavix, which inhibits blood clots in people with cardiovascular disease, has been of world's top-selling drugs.) Last month, Dr. Stephen Barrett found that the discount program's Web site was defective and that Medicare participants without drug coverage were mistakenly told they were ineligible. However, in response to Dr. Barrett's complaints, both problems have been fixed, which means that most consumers who do not have insurance coverage for drugs can benefit from the plan.

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