Consumer Health Digest #13-21

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 30, 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.

Acupuncture blasted. David Colquhoun, Ph.D. and Steven Novella, M.D., have coauthored a hard-hitting article which concludes that that acupuncture is worthless for pain relief. [Colquhoun D, Novella S. Acupuncture is theatrical placebo. Anesthesia & Analgesia 116:1360-1363, 2013] Their report concludes that "the benefits of acupuncture are likely nonexistent, or at best are too small and too transient to be of any clinical significance." The full text of the article can be downloaded from the journal Web site. However, a version on Colquhoun's blog contains links to dozens of supportive documents.

Kevin Trudeau facing possible imprisonment. Infomercial scammer Kevin Trudeau may be facing imprisonment for failing to pay a court-ordered sanction entered against him more than three years ago. Trudeau claims that he has no assets and cannot pay. However, investigators believe he has hidden assets through an elaborate scheme that involved marrying a young Ukranian woman and placing her in control of a multimillion-dollar network that supports his elaborate lifestyle. The main enterprise is the Global Information Network (GIN), which states on its Web site::

The goal of the Global Information Network is to be the worldwide communication center that will spread previously secret and hidden knowledge; knowledge that had previously been used by the ruling classes to keep the world uninformed, full of fear, impoverished and enslaved. In educating the world with this secret data, The Global Information Network hopes to empower people to have, be or do everything and anything they desire. Ultimately the outcome of these efforts will be the following: Happiness will increase, fear will fall away, people will become more prosperous than ever before, poverty, slavery, and despair will begin to vanish from the planet and violence and wars will cease to exist on planet earth.

In July 2012, in a contempt motion, the Federal Trade Commission summarized the situation this way:

On June 2, 2010, the Court ordered Defendant Kevin Trudeau to pay a contempt sanction of $37,616,161 to the FTC. Trudeau has violated the Court's Order by failing to pay even one penny, and his claim of poverty is meritless. He is engaged in multiple lucrative business ventures that generate millions of dollars in revenues. He has systematically concealed substantial assets by various means, and dissipated other assets on his lavish lifestyle. Moreover, Trudeau's complete failure to pay, his extensive history of failing to obey court orders, and his total lack of credibility, demonstrate that he will not comply with the Court's Order unless he is coerced to do so by incarceration. Accordingly, the FTC moves to: (1) hold Trudeau in contempt for failing to pay the $37,616,161 contempt sanction; (2) immediately incarcerate him to coerce his compliance; and (3) order that he remain incarcerated until he purges his contempt by paying the sanction in full, with interest, and failing that, until he fully accounts for and turns over all assets directly or indirectly held by him or for his benefit.

The FTC's filing states that Trudeau owns or controls five corporations with nearly $190 million total cash flow since 2007. ABC News has reported that he has been averaging about $1 million a year in new credit card charges that were paid mainly by the corporations the government says he controls. [Hill J. Kevin Trudeau: Chasing the dream seller, May 20, 2013] Trudeau's attorneys deny this and characterize the payments as business expenses associated with Trudeau's speaking engagements and worldwide travel. They claim the expenses are paid by separate companies that Trudeau neither owns nor controls, in connection with services he provides to them. During a court hearing last week, when an FTC attorney questioned him for more than three hours, Trudeau invoked his Fifth Amendment rights hundreds of times. Trudeau is represented by the Law Offices of Marc J. Lane, which specializes in "asset protection." The FTC has also asked the court to hold the law firm and and three of the companies in contempt for failing to produce subpoenaed documents. Casewatch has background information on Trudeau's history and links to many relevant documents.

FDA nails Toftness device distributor. The FDA has successfully prosecuted David Ray Toftness, D.C., and the Toftness Post-Graduate School in Wisconsin for illegally distributing unapproved diagnostic devices. In the early 1980s, after a lengthy campaign, the FDA obtained court orders banning sale of the Toftness Radiation Detector and similar devices in interstate commerce and ordering the sellers to notify all buyers to return them. The device, which was developed by David's uncle, Irwing N. Toftness, D.C. (1909-1990), is a hand-held instrument that supposedly focused low-level radiation emitted from the body that the chiropractor could detect while rubbing his fingers on the detection plate. Rubbing hard would produce "crackling" sounds that supposedly identified areas of "nerve interference" (subluxations) treatable by very-low-force spinal "adjustments." In 2005, the FDA discovered that David and the school were still shipping violative devices. In 2007, the agency conducted a search during which 96 instruments were seized. In 2013, David and the school were charged and pleaded guilty to shipping unapproved devices in interstate commerce. The plea agreements call for forfeiture of the seized devices as well as any others in defendants' possession or that could be recalled from buyers. Sentencing is scheduled in August. Chirobase has additional background information and links to relevant documents.

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This page was revised on June 2, 2013.