Consumer Health Digest #13-14

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 4, 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.

Court orders FDA to permit unrestricted sale of emergency contraception pills. A federal judge has ordered the U.S. government to make the most common "morning-after" pill available over the counter for all ages, instead of requiring a prescription for girls 16 and younger.The first such product received FDA approval as a prescription drug in 1999 and—pressed by a lawsuit—approved it for over-the-counter sale in 2006, but only for 18-year-olds who had government-issued identification. After the court ordered the FDA to consider increasing access, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg agreed to do so but was overruled by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. The judge's ruling also accused the government of "bad faith" in dealing with the requests to make the pill universally available and said its actions had been politically motivated. Emergency contraception pills, which contain a hormone that blocks ovulation or uterine implantation of a fertilized egg, are now sold under the names Plan B, Plan B One-Step, and Next Choice. They can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, but the earlier they are used, the more effective they are. If taken within 12 hours, the pregnancy rate is 0.4%. If taken within 1 to 3 days, the rate is 2.7%. The legal actions and FDA petition were spearheaded by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Bad Science Watch attacks sale of nosodes. Bad Science Watch is asking Health Canada to stop approving nosodes for sale in Canada, to de-register all currently approved nosodes, and to order the recall of all currently registered products. Nosodes are oral homeopathic preparations made from bodily tissues and fluids (including feces, blood, pus, discharges, and saliva) taken from patients suffering from a disease (including measles, anthrax, tuberculosis). Once the starting material is obtained, it is sterilized and serially diluted, often to the point where no active ingredient remains. Bad Science Watch is focusing on use of nosodes claimed to prevent infectious disease, a procedure called "homeoprophylaxis." Many Canadian naturopaths and homeopaths are recommending nosodes as substitute for effective vaccines. Health Canada's Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD) currently licenses about 180 nosodes, including about 80 that practitioners recommend for preventing diphtheria, influenza, pertussis, measles, polio, and other infectious diseases. By issuing a Natural Health Product number to a product, the NHPD assures Canadians the product is "safe, effective and of high quality." However, no evidence of efficacy is required for approval. Bad Science Watch is asking academics, health professionals, and scientists to sign its online petition.

Hawaii naturopath sued for home-birth mishap. Honolulu naturopath Lori G. Kimata and her company Sacred Healing Arts Center have been accused of negligence in connection with the birth of an infant who suffered brain damage. The complaint alleges:

The Sacred Healing Arts Center Web site states that Kimata received her naturopathic degree in 1988 from National College of Naturopathic Medicine in Portland, Oregon.

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This page was posted on April 6, 2013.