Consumer Health Digest #13-10

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 7, 2013

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.

Cancer hospital treatment statistics challenged. A Reuters investigation has concluded that survival statistics published by Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) are misleading. [Report questions Cancer Treatment Centers of America's survival claims. Reuters, March 7, 2013] According to the report, CTCA's percentages are boosted by turning away many patients who are older, are uninsured or on Medicaid, or have received prior treatment, and therefore are likely to have a less favorable prognosis than the average patient listed in the National Cancer Institutes SEER database. The report also noted that in 1969, CTCA's founder, Richard J. Stephenson had pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of false advertising in a case where seven of his associates had been found guilty of conspiring to commit grand theft in a case involving an organization that taught others how to avoid paying income taxes. In 1996. CTCA and two of its affiliated hospitals agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission allegations that they had made false and unsubstantiated claims that their survivorship rate for cancer patients was among the highest recorded and that whole body hyperthermia could successfully treat certain forms of cancer that were previously unresponsive to conventional types of cancer treatment.

FDA import ban list available. The FDA has listed hundreds of devices that have not been cleared or approved for sale in the United States and therefore should not be commercially imported. [Detention without physical examination of Class III devices without approved PMA's or IDE's and other devices not equivalent or no 510k. Import Alert #89-08, FDA Web site, March 8, 2013] The list's purpose is to inform FDA field personnel that they may detain the such devices without examining them. The devices include unapproved HIV diagnostic kits, alleged penile corrective devices, alleged breast-enhancing devices, the Oasis Cranial Electrotherapy Stimulator (CES), the Quantum Xrroid (also called QXCI or EPFX), and the Ondamed System Regulation Biofeedback Device, which is falsely claimed to diagnose and treat the gamut of disease by detecting and correcting vibrations associated with organ dysfunction.

Cantron manufacturer flunks FDA inspection. An FDA inspection has determined that Consolidated Marketing Unlimited, Inc. has seriously violated FDA's Current Good Manufacturing Practice in the Manufacturing, Packaging, Labeling or Holding Operations for Dietary Supplements. In a warning letter. the FDA specified serious concerns about Cantron, GH3, and Hydrazine sulfate. The products are marketed through Medical Products Research. James Godin, who is president of both companies, says that he started Medical Products Research in the late 1970s in response to FDA efforts to stop GH3 from being sold as an anti-aging product and that he added Cantron in response to government efforts to stop its sale as a cancer remedy. [Godin J. Company history. Medical Research Products Web site, accessed March 7, 2013] Godin's also notes:

Due to pressure from the FDA and the FTC in 1988 we stopped making any medical claims for any of our products and stopped conducting advertising altogether. After that time we decided to sell all of our products as dietary supplements and relied solely on the word of mouth advertising from satisfied users of my products.

Medical Research Products offers at least four other products that are widely promoted by others as effective against cancer: Shark liver oil, Germanium-132, Lapacho extract, and Aveloz extract. Since 1994, the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act has enabled him to advertise them as dietary supplements by avoiding cancer-fighting claims.

Investigative report scrutinizes Visalus. The Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation has published a detailed report about Visalus, a ultra-fast-growing multilevel marketing company that sells dietary supplements claimed to help control weight and enhance athletic performance. The report assails the company's business model, the probability that new investors in its "business opportunity" will lose money, and-the financial maneuverings of the company owners related to a stock offering. [Boyd R. The infernal machine: From powder to dust. The Investigator, Nov 26, 2012]

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This page was revised on March 10, 2013.