Consumer Health Digest #13-23
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 13, 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.
Massive "bad charity" report published. The Tampa Bay Times has published the results of a year-long investigation of charities that use most of their funds to pay commercial solicitors and their own executives. [Hundley K, Taggert K. America's worst charities rake in nearly $1 billion for corporate fundraisers. Tampa Bay Times, June 8, 2013] The Center for Investigative Reporting helped with the investigation. Among the findings:
- The 50 worst charities (defined as those thy spent the most on fundraising) in America devoted less than 4% of donations raised to direct cash aid. Some charities gave even less. Over a decade, one diabetes charity raised nearly $14 million and gave about $10,000 to patients. Six that promised to help patients spent nothing at all on direct cash aid.
- Collectively the 50 worst charities raised more than $1.3 billion over the past decade and paid nearly $1 billion of that directly to the companies that raised their donations.
- Operators at many of these charities have lied to donors about where their money goes, taken multiple salaries, secretly paid themselves consulting fees or arranged fundraising contracts with family or friends.
- Some nonprofits are little more than fronts for fundraising companies that bankroll their startup costs.
CNN aired a special report during which operators of several funds refused to be interviewed and excerpts were played from taped solicitors in action. [Above the law: America's worst charities. CNN.com, June 13, 2013]
Another reporter followed up with an investigation of Project Cure (Florida), which solicits money for research into prostate cancer, Alzheimer's disease, and diabetes. The reporter found that its "headquarters" address is a storage unit. [Schelle C. East Manatee's Project Cure ranks as No. 15 worst U.S. charity. Bradenton Herald, June 12, 2013] Quackwatch has additional information about Project Cure.
British regulators object to acupuncture claims. The British Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints against two acupuncture leaflets issued by the Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine. One leaflet claimed that acupuncture was effective against menstrual disturbances, other gynecological disorders, prostatitis, urinary disorders, infertility, stress, anxiety, depression, addictions, migraines, tinnitus, dizziness, sleep disturbances, immune system imbalances, allergies, herpes zoster (shingles), gastrointestinal conditions, musculoskeletal problems (including joint pain and back pain), sinusitis, asthma, and high blood pressure. The other leaflet made efficacy claims for various musculoskeletal conditions. The RLHIM conceded that about half the claims could not be substantiated but submitted 43 reports that supposedly supported the rest. But the ASA concluded that the evidence was insufficient to support the advertised claims.
Acupuncture complications analyzed. Chinese researchers have published a systematic review of adverse events associated with acupuncture reported between 2000 and 2011. The investigators found 117 reports of 308 adverse events from 25 countries and regions. The main complications were bacterial infection caused by skin contact at acupoint sites. Internal injuries such as puncture of the lung were also reported. [Xu S and others. Adverse events of acupuncture: A systematic review of case reports. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Volume 2013, Article ID 581203] The full text of the article is accessible online.
This page was posted on June 16, 2013.