Consumer Health Digest #13-25

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 27, 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.

Australian antivax group blasted from three directions. The Victorian Senate has passed a resolution urging the Australian Vaccination Network (AVN) to disband. The resolution's sponsor, Dr. Richard Di Natale, said:

I have had people contact me who have lost children to diseases that have a safe and effective vaccine. Well-meaning parents are being fed dangerous misinformation which undermines their faith in the safety of vaccines. This has to stop. The AVN have gone so far as to promote measles as a healthy gift from mother nature and not the deadly disease it really is. As a doctor, I saw first-hand the tragedy these easily preventable diseases can cause."Today the Senate has joined with the public health community to send a clear and strong message to those who are peddling lies about vaccines—they should pack up and go home."

The resolution stated that the Senate:

Last December, the New South Wales Office of Fair Trading ordered AVN to change its name. In an action letter, NSW Fair Trading Minister Anthony Roberts said that AVN:

AVN is resisting the order in court. [Harvey E. Australian Vaccination Network fights court order to change name. ABC News, June 13, 2013]

In April 2013, the Australian Communications and Media Authority ruled that WIN Television had breached the Media Code by permitting AVN's president (Meryl Dorey) to state that "all vaccines, in the medical literature, have been linked to the possibility of causing autism" and subsequently failing to correct the false information when viewers complained that it was inaccurate. [ACMA Investigation Report No. 2883, April 22, 2013]

Dentists smack the Wizard of Woo. The American Dental Association (ADA) has withdrawn its participation in Sharecare, the consumer Web site founded by Mehmet Oz, M.D. The site—launched in October 2010 with help and support from prominent health-related professionals, organizations and companies—enables the public to submit questions that are answered by health professionals. The withdrawal was triggered by the Dr. Oz Show's s airing of an irresponsible attack on amalgam fillings. [Baratz RS, Barrett S. Dr. Oz's improper amalgam toxicity demonstration. Dental Watch, June 25, 2013] ADA President Robert A. Faiella summed up the group's reaction by stating: "As a science-based organization, we should always welcome inquiry, but we should not be seen as supporting the promotion of misleading information unsupported by the best science." [ADA and Sharecare part ways: Association ends connection with Dr. Oz Web site. ADA News, June 10, 2013] The program frequently promotes unsubstantiated products and services and has featured Joseph Mercola, D.O. a leading opponent of vaccination and fluoridation.

OIG reports unauthorized prescribing. The U.S. Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has found that Medicare is paying for drugs prescribed by people with no authority to prescribe. In 2009, at least 400,000 prescriptions were issued by people who appeared to be dietitians, massage therapists, chiropractors, audiologists, counselors, social workers, and others who lacked prescriptive authority. Tens of thousands of these prescriptions were for narcotics and other controlled drugs. [Levinson DR. Medicare inappropriately paid for drugs ordered by individuals without prescribing authority. OIG, June 2013]

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This page was posted on June 27, 2013.