Consumer Health Digest #13-31

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 22, 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.

FDA ends plan B emergency contraception restrictions. The FDA has approved Plan B One-Step emergency contraceptives for use without a prescription for all women of child-bearing potential. This action complies with the April 5, 2013 order of the U.S. District Court in New York to make levonorgestrel-containing emergency contraceptives available over-the-counter without age or point-of-sale restrictions. Plan B One Step is a single-dose pill that can decrease the chance of pregnancy by stopping ovulation. It can be taken up to 120 hours after unprotected sex, but the earlier it is used, the more effective it is. If taken within 12 hours, the pregnancy rate is 0.4%. If taken within 1 to 3 days, the rate is 2.7%. The court case was spearheaded by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

FDA blasts unproven hyperbaric oxygen claims. The FDA has posed a Consumer Update advising consumers to be wary of claims that hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) is effective against AIDS/HIV, Alzheimer's disease, asthma, autism, Bell's palsy, brain injury, cancer, cerebral palsy, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hepatitis, migraine, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, spinal cord injury, sports injuries, and stroke. HBOT involves breathing oxygen in a pressurized chamber. The FDA has cleared hyperbaric chambers for a few medical uses, such as treating decompression sickness suffered by divers, but many Web sites are making unsubstantiated claims.

Refunds sent to Disney/Marvel-themed vitamin buyers. The FTC has mailed 10,144 checks to consumers who bought Disney- or Marvel Hero-themed vitamins for their children that featured characters such as the Disney Princesses, Winnie the Pooh, Nemo, and Spider-Man. More than $425,000 is being returned for vitamins purchased between May 1, 2008 and September 30, 2010. Eligible consumers will receive 100% of what they paid, up to $125 per household. [FTC sends refunds to consumers who purchased Disney- or Marvel Hero-themed children's vitamins. FTC news release, Aug 8, 2013] The refunds are part of a settlement with dietary supplement marketer NBTY Inc. and two subsidiaries that had been charged with making false claims that the products would promote eye and brain health because they contained DHA. However, they actually contained only trace amounts of DHA. The settlement also bars future use of unsubstantiated claims that any ingredient, including DHA, promotes brain or eye health or provides any other health benefit. [FTC settlement prohibits marketers of children's vitamins from making deceptive health claims about brain and eye development, FTC news release, Dec 13, 2010]

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This page was posted on August 24, 2013.