Consumer Health Digest #14-36
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 28, 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.
FTC warns companies about disclosures. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has sent warning letters to more than 60 companies—including 20 of the 100 largest advertisers in the country—that failed to make adequate disclosures in their television and print ads. The initiative—Operation Full Disclosure—focused on disclosures that were in fine print or were otherwise easy to miss or hard to read, yet contained important information needed to avoid misleading consumers. The FTC's letters advised the advertisers to ensure that any necessary disclosures are truly "clear and conspicuous" and asked them to report what remedial steps actions they intended to take. The targeted companies were not identified but included a wide range of industries and products. Makers of weight loss claims were warned that ads featuring testimonials claiming outlier results did not adequately disclose the weight loss that consumers generally could expect to achieve. The FTC Web site contains additional details about disclosures.
State Farm withdraws ad involving vaccine opponent. State Farm has withdrawn an ad featuring actor Rob Schneider. The company's action came in response to a vigorous social media campaign that questioned how a company that sells health insurance could hire a celebrity spokesperson who is so openly against vaccinations. [State Farm drops ad starring Rob Schneider over anti-vaccine views. PR Week, Sept 22, 2014] For several years, Schneider has incorrectly claimed that vaccines cause autism.
GcMAF cancer claims questioned. Several skeptical articles have been published about GcMAF, a protein compound promoted as a cancer treatment based primarily on favorable reports by Dr. Nobuto Yamamoto:
- In 2008 Cancer Research UK noted that none of Yamamoto's studies had compared treated patients with untreated controls.
- Jeffrey Beall has pointed out that although Yamamoto's findings have been published in medical journals, there is good reason to suspect the quality and integrity of the journals. [Beall J. Would you take a cancer cure proven effective in a predatory journal? Scholarly Open Access Blog, July 24, 2014]
- The Anticancer Fund (Belgium) Web site summarizes the current status of Yamamoto's work and warns that, "GcMAF has not been properly studied in clinical trials and its laboratory results still need to be confirmed independently. So far, all claims on the efficacy of this product have no solid scientific basis. Its marketing is illegal; therefore there is no controlled guarantee on the quality of the product for human consumption sold over the internet."
- The Anticancer Fund has also noted that Yamamoto's primary publication (a) contains many errors, (b) includes many references that do not support its claims, and (c) contains results that contradict established knowledge of cancer. [Ugarte A and others. Inconsistencies and questionable reliability of the publication "Imunotherapy of metastatic colorectal cancer with vitamin D-binding protein-derived macrophages-activating, GcMAF" by Yamamoto et al. Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy, published online, July 24, 2014]
This page was posted on September 28, 2014.