Consumer Health Digest #14-44
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 7, 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.
Antiquackery group achieves nonprofit status. The Society for Science Based Medicine (SFSBM), which began operations earlier this year, has been granted 501(c)(3) status, which means that donations to it are now-tax-deductible. It has also begun publishing a free monthly newsletter. The group's mission includes:
- Educating consumers, professionals, business people, legislators, law enforcement personnel, organizations, and agencies about science-based medicine.
- Providing resources and information concerning all aspects of science-based medicine.
- Providing a central resource for communication between individuals and organizations concerned about science-based medicine.
- Supporting sound consumer health laws for the practice of science-based medicine and opposing legislation that undermines it.
- Encouraging and aiding legal actions in support of the practice of science-based medicine.
SFSBM's Web site features a wiki based on articles from Quackwatch and its satellite sites that will be perpetually maintained and updated by expert editorial teams. The site will eventually offer fact sheets, links to book reviews, eBooks (available free to members), and many other educational features. The cost of joining is $85 for basic membership or $25 for student membership. Volunteers are being solicited to help format wiki articles and for other projects.
Classic quackery report republished. NutriWatch has published an account of the proceedings of the 1971 Resource Conference on Food Faddism and Cultism which was sponsored by the American Medical Association and attended by educators, writers and a high-ranking FDA official. The participants noted:
- Susceptable groups include: miracle seekers (seeking therapy); the alienated; ritual or authority seekers; those seeking long life, "super" health, or a "high"; the paranoiac or extremist; "truth" seekers; fashion followers; and the afraid.
- Education is probably one of the best defenses against food faddism. However, the health food movement has made this difficult by undermining the credibility of industry, government, medicine, and science.
- There will never be sufficient manpower to provide the type of education necessary to meet the needs of tremendous groups of people.
- Unless a high priority is established within the regulatory agencies which would permit a strong regulatory arm to go with the informational arm, it will be extremely difficult to combat nutrition quackery.
- Even if it were possible to promulgate many types of regulations, they are meaningless unless sufficient funds are also allocated to examine or prosecute those guilty of propagating nutrition quackery.
In the 40+ years since this report was issued, the problems described in the report have become worse. The ability to promote quackery has been greatly enhanced by the Internet; professional organizations and academic institutions have become less aggressive; and government regulation is less effective than it was in 1970.
Arizona naturopathic board criticized. The Arizona Auditor General has once again reviewed the functioning of the Arizona Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board, which, as of March 2014, regulated 714 naturopathic licensees. The report concluded that the board should (a) screen applicants more carefully, (b) process complaints more quickly, and (c) improve its provision of public information.
Naturopath who offered cancer cure suspended. The Washington Board of Naturopathy has disciplined naturopath John Catanzaro after concluding that he had improperly treated cancer patients with unproven vaccines. Catanzaro operates the Health and Wellness Institute of Integrative Medicine and Cancer Treatment in Bothell, Washington. In 2013, the clinic's Web site offered "cancer immunotherapy . . . aimed at the root cause of the cancer and reestablishing a condition of immune competence." In January 2014, the board charged that Catanzaro had failed to tell patients that the treatment was experimental and that his research lacked proper approval. He was also charged with keeping inadequate patient records and performing inadequate patient examinations. The charges were accompanied by a summary suspension order. In October 2014, the case was resolved with an agreed order that called for (a) a fine of $5,000, (b) repayment of a total of $180,750 to ten patients, and (c) continuation of the suspension until January 29, 2015, after which he can apply for reinstatement of his license. The order also called for probation for at least 8 years, during which he and others at his institute must stay within the scope of naturopathy and refrain from administering cancer vaccines or any other cancer treatment for which FDA or Institutional Review Board approval would be required. This was the second time that Catanzano was disciplined for administering questionable treatments. In 2007, he was charged with treating 18 patients with products that were "not identified on the Legend substance list approved by the Secretary of the Department of Health of Washington State and not exemplified in traditional botanical and herbal pharmacopoeia." The case was settled with a stipulated disposition under which he was fined $1,500 and placed on probation for one year.
This page was posted on December 8, 2014.