Consumer Health Digest #13-24

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 20, 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.

Glucosamine class-action suit settled. The Chicago federal court has given preliminary approval to a class-action settlement involving glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate products marketed by Rexall Sundown, Inc. and NBTY, Inc. and sold at Costco under the Kirkland label. The settlement resolves six lawsuits that alleged that various statements made for these produce were false, misleading, and/or deceptive. Although the companies deny wrongdoing, they have agreed to pay up to $2 million to settle consumer claims. The prohibited statements include:

The Glucosamine Settlement Web Site has information for consumers who are eligible for reimbursement.

Two other class-action suits are pending. One, filed in 2012 in New York, alleges that 21st Century Healthcare, Inc. falsely advertised that its "Glucosamine 750 Chondroitin 600 Triple Strength" products will restore lost cartilage. The other suit, filed this year in California Federal Court, accuses Nutramax Laboratories, Walmart, and Rite Aid of falsely advertising the effectiveness of glucosamine. Quackwatch discusses the scientific status of glucosamine and chondroitin.

Chiropractic "endocrinologists" under fire. The Colorado medical board has ordered Brandon Credeur, D.C. and his wife Heather Credeur, D.C., who operate the Functional Endocrinology Center of Colorado, to stop various actions that the board considers to be unlicensed medical practice. The center's Web site offers "customized care" to "break free from the standard approach of drugs and hormones as a first line defense against type II diabetes and hypothyroidism." In 2011, Denver's ABC News, aired critical broadcasts about the Credeurs that triggered more than 200 calls and complaints. The station's CALL7 news team reported that more than a dozen patients were suing them. The Colorado State Board of Chiropractic Examiners charged Brandon with (a) false, misleading, and unethical advertising, (b) abandoning a patient, (c) ordering and performing unnecessary tests, and (d) practicing outside the scope of his license in connection with his dealings with five patients. However, the charges were settled with a consent order under which Brandon admitted nothing and merely agreed to keep better records. [Marchetta T. Patients thought Denver chiropractor would lose license, want answers from DORA, Attorney General: Brandon Credeur's former patients shocked. ABC7 News, Aug 24, 2012] Heather signed a similar consent agreement. Both agreements specified that the Credeurs could continue to refer to their practice as "functional endocrinology" as long as they clearly identified themselves as chiropractors. The medical board wants the Credeurs to (a) stop suggesting that they have effective treatment and can assume sole responsibility for advising patients about endocrine disorders, (b) stop suggesting that their chiropractic treatments can permanently eliminate low thyroid symptoms and reduce and eliminate the risk factors of diabetes, and (c) clearly identify themselves as chiropractors so that patients do not assume they are medical doctors. The Credeurs have ten days in which to notify the medical board if they want a hearing.

In 2012, the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing suspended the chiropractic license of Brandon Babcock D.C., who operated the Functional Endocrinology Institute of Utah. The emergency order states that Babcock advertised that he could reverse the effects of type II diabetes so that patients would no longer need to take medication. He also offered free meals and free seminars during which he would market his program. The order describes six cases in which Babcock acted unprofessionally and indicates that the Division had received more than 50 complaints about inappropriate billing for this program. Babcock has also been charged in criminal court with ten counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and one count of communications fraud. His trial is scheduled begin on August 12th.

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This page was posted on June 23, 2013.