Consumer Health Digest #14-24

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 6, 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.

Another chelation therapist charged with unprofessional conduct. Stephen L. Smith, M.D., who practices in Pasco, Washington, has been charged with unprofessional conduct in connection with his management of an autistic teenager. The statement of charges alleges that Smith fell below the standard of care by:

In 2006, Smith was charged with unprofessional conduct for relying on unreliable diagnostic tests and failing to provide or refer the patient for appropriate treatment. The questionable tests included hair analysis and a provoked urine test for mercury toxicity. Smith's inappropriate "working diagnoses" included mold contamination, organ inflammation due to rapid detoxification, mercury toxicity, probable Lyme disease, and a viral inflammation of the abdomen for which he prescribed intravenous hydrogen peroxide. In 2007, he was ordered to pay a $5,000 fine, undergo a practice evaluation, and do what the evaluators recommended.

UK autism lawyers sued. Families who failed to win cases based on the theory the MMR vaccination caused their children to become autistic are suing their former lawyers for pursuing "hopeless" claims and enriching themselves by collecting many millions of pounds from legal aid. [Tran M. MMR vaccine: lawyers sued for pursuing claim based on link to autism. The Guardian, June 26, 2014] More than 1,000 such families were involved in a class action suit that was dropped in 2003 after research by Andrew Wakefield on the link between autism and the MMR vaccine was discredited. At least two suits have been filed by families who argue that they lost their opportunity for compensation because their former lawyers failed to pursue other legal grounds. Since vaccinations do not actually cause autism, however, there appears to be no reason to believe that any other suit that required establishing a link between vaccination and autism would have fared any better.

Cosmetic company settles FTC charges. L'Oréal USA, Inc. has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges of deceptive advertising about its Lancôme Génifique and L'Oréal Paris Youth Code skin-care products. According to the FTC's complaint, L'Oréal made false and unsubstantiated claims that its Génifique and Youth Code products provided anti-aging benefits by targeting users' genes. Under the proposed administrative settlement, the company is prohibited from making unsubstantiated claims that any Lancôme or L'Oréal Paris facial skin-care product targets or boosts the activity of genes to make skin look or act younger, or respond five times faster to aggressors like stress, fatigue, and aging. [L'Oréal settles FTC charges alleging deceptive advertising for anti-aging cosmetics. FTC news release, June 20, 2014]

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This page was posted on July 6, 2014.