Consumer Health Digest #14-32

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 31, 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.

Medical Letter skeptical of fish oil supplements. The Medical Letter for Drugs and Therapeutics has reviewed current evidence about fish oil supplements and concluded:

Source: Fish oil supplements. JAMA 342:839, 2014.

Israel's health minister bans fluoridation. Ignoring the views of public health and dentistry experts in her ministry and elsewhere, Israel's Health Minister Yael German has ordered that fluoridation of drinking water be banned in her country. Since 1970, fluoridation has been required in communities of 5,000 or more and has served 70% of Israel's population. The Jerusalem Post reported that German acknowledges that fluoride is very effective in reducing dental cavities, especially among children. [Siegel-Itzkovich J. Health Minister German outlaws fluoridation of all tap water. Jerusalem Post Aug 17, 2014] But The Times of Israel reported that she believes that fluoridation is dangerous. [Jalil J. Israel to discontinue fluoridation of tap water. The Times of Israel, August 25, 2014] Since other methods of administration are not nearly as effective from a public health standpoint, German's policy—which Israeli experts call amateurish and irresponsible—will cause enormous harm if allowed to remain in effect. The Knesset Web site lists German's educational background as a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in business administration, and a teaching certificate.

Victor Stenger, prominent skeptic, dies at 79. Victor Stenger, Ph.D., a physicist who repeatedly debunked pseudoscientific theories related to the physical sciences, died last week from what his wife described as "an aneurysm next to his heart." His classic article. "The physics of complementary and alternative medicine," targets Deepak Chopra, Martha Rogers, and others who assert that living things possess a special "bioenergetic field," claim that the human mind can control external reality, and twist the concepts of quantum physics to suit their own purposes.

Doctors who bought tainted drugs identified. The FDA has identified more than 100 physicians who purchased drugs from foreign or unlicensed suppliers that sold illegal prescription medications. One such company was operated by Sabahaddin Akman, who recently pleaded guilty to charges of smuggling misbranded and adulterated cancer drugs into the United States. The FDA has noted a rise in the number of drug distribution schemes that are illegally importing and distributing unapproved drugs by selling directly to U.S. medical practices at discount prices. These drugs may have unknown ingredients or may not have been manufactured, transported, or stored under proper conditions. Akman's Ozay Pharmaceuticals is one example. His case is related to a previously prosecuted foreign drug distributor, Richards Pharma, owned by Richard J. Taylor. Ozay sold counterfeit Altuzan (a Turkish version of Avastin that contained no active ingredients) to Richards Pharma, which illegally distributed it along with other unapproved cancer drugs to medical practices in the United States. Richards Pharma was also known as Richards Services, Warwick Healthcare Solutions, andBan Dune Marketing Inc. (BDMI). In 2012, the FDA issued several public safety alerts and sent and posted letters to doctors who had purchased from foreign or unlicensed suppliers. The Drug Supply Chain Security Act, which takes effect on January 1, 2015, requires all providers who dispense or administer prescription drugs to obtain them only from legally authorized trading partners. It also calls for the establishment of an electronic database that will identify and trace certain drugs that are distributed within the U.S.

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This page was posted on August 31, 2014.