Consumer Health Digest #14-11

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 30, 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.

Access to reduced drugs prices at risk. Dr. Stephen Barrett has launched a petition drive to urge Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to refuse to block consumer access to prescription drugs from legitimate foreign pharmacies. Millions of Americans are safely buying from online pharmacies in Canada and elsewhere where prices are much lower for the same drugs sold within the United States. Drug companies are pressing the government to take actions that would keep Americans paying inflated prices while they sell the same drugs for much less outside the U.S. (Safe foreign pharmacies can be located through

Although U.S. law says that ordering most medications from outside the country is not legal (a law that should be changed), the government has not acted against individuals who purchase small quantities for personal use. But next year these drugs could be seized and destroyed by U.S. Customs without notice if that is what Sebelius decides. Please sign the petition and ask others to do the same.)

Australian anti-vax group under more pressure. Last year, New South Wales Fair Trading concluded that the Australian Vaccination Network's name was misleading. [Jabour B. Australian Vaccination Network ordered to change name: Magistrate said group lobbied against vaccinations and did not give comprehensive account of pros and cons. The Guardian, Nov 24, 2013] After its court battle ended, the organization did change its name to the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network. However, it continued to use the abbreviation "AVN." This week, the group announced that an agency official has ordered it to stop using "AVN" rather than "AVSN," which, among other things, would mean that it would have to abandon its current Web address and would rank lower on searches. [Beattie G. Apparently our acronym is now misleading? Australian Vaccine-skeptics Network Web site, March 25, 2014]

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This page was posted on March 26, 2014.