Consumer Health Digest #14-06

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 16, 2014

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.

Key Obamacare provisions take effect. Despite all the controversy, on January 1st, four highly significant provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect:

Taken together, these provisions will make insurance coverage available to millions of Americans who could not previously afford it. Writing in JAMA, two physicians opine that "no single date stands out as more consequential for the health and well-being of the US public." [McDonough JE, Adashi E. Realizing the promise of the Affordable Care Act—January 1, 2014. JAMA 311:569-570, 2014]

Elderly stem cell scammer gets long prison sentence. Alfred Sapse, an 87-year-old unlicensed physician, has been sentenced to 17.5 years in federal prison and ordered to pay $1 million in restitution for heading a stem cell scam in Las Vegas. [Man sentenced to 17-1/2 years in prison in phony stem cell case. U.S. Justice Dept. press release, Sept 24, 2013] In November 2012, following a four-week jury trial, Sapse and Ralph Conti, M.D. of Henderson, Nevada, were convicted of conspiracy and fraud. Evidence in the case indicated:

Conti died soon after the conviction after undergoing a medical procedure unrelated to the case . Quackwatch has additional details.

Medical Letter has excellent blog.. The highly respected Medical Letter for Drugs and Therapeutics publishes a blog that is accessible free of charge. It it written primarily for health professionals, but many of its articles are readily understandable by others. Its timely topics include electronic cigarettes, antihistamines for colds, the new lipid-lowering drug guidelines, and FDA warnings about dietary supplements for weight loss.

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This page was posted on February 17, 2014.