Consumer Health Digest #14-46
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 21, 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.
BMJ study blasts "Dr. Oz" and "The Doctors." Canadian researchers have concluded that the advice given on "Dr. Oz Show" and "The Doctors" is untrustworthy. [Korownyk C and others. Televised medical talk shows—what they recommend and the evidence to support their recommendations: A prospective observational study. British Medical Journal, Dec 17, 2014] After evaluating 80 randomly selected statements made on each show, the researchers concluded:
- For recommendations in The Dr Oz Show, evidence supported 46%, contradicted 15%, and was not found for 39%.
- For recommendations in The Doctors, evidence supported 63%, contradicted 14%, and was not found for 24%.
- "Believable" or "somewhat believable" evidence supported 33% of the recommendations on The Dr Oz Show and 53% on The Doctors.
Manipulation under anesthesia ring charged with insurance fraud. Seven people and a Florida company have been indicted for their roles in a multi-million dollar health-care fraud conspiracy involving chiropractic manipulation under anesthesia (MUA). The accused are Physicians Surgical Group (PSG), a medical billing company headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida; Christopher Liva, Edward Liva, Carolyn Via, all of Boca Raton; Mark Fritz, of Coral Springs, Florida; John Nickels, M.D., of Highland Heights, Ohio; John Fortuna, D.C., of Avon, Ohio, and Antony Simone, D.C. of Cleveland. The Livas, Fritz, Nickels, Fortuna, Simone and the company are charged with one count each of conspiracy, wire fraud, and health care fraud; and all are charged with at least one count of money laundering. The indictment states:
- The procedures were performed at the Shaker Heights Surgical Center, which was owned by the Livas, Via, and four others not identified in the Indictment.
- Chiropractors throughout the state were solicited and paid a flat fee of $4,000 per patient referred for a three-day session of procedures.
- Patients were advised they would not have to pay anything for the procedure.
- MUA can be useful for frozen shoulder and a few other conditions but was neither necessary nor appropriate for the patients serviced by the defendants.
- Between 2007 and 2010, the defendants disregarded diagnoses; used false diagnoses; submitted false billing claims; represented that procedures were performed by osteopathic and medical doctors when they actually were performed by osteopathic doctors and chiropractors; waived patients' required co-payments and deductibles; and took other steps as part of the criminal conspiracy.
- The victimized insurance companies included Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield; Aetna; United Healthcare; and Medical Mutual of Ohio.
Herbalife ordered to remove misleading ad. The FDA has asked Herbalife Ltd to remove a YouTube video in which Vassilos K. Frankos, Ph.D., claimed that when he was director of dietary supplements at the FDA, he "oversaw nutritional supplements, making sure they were safe and effective." The FDA's letter pointed out that "as Herbalife and Dr. Frankos should know . . . the FDA is not authorized and does not review dietary supplements for effectiveness" and does not usually review them for safety. A copy of the letter was sent to the Federal Trade Commission, which is known to be investigating Herbalife's marketing practices. Visitors to the video's URL now get a message saying that the video is "private."
Dentists will promote fluoridation through social media campaign. The American Dental Association (ADA) House of Delegates has voted to allocate $500,000 to promote fluoridation through Facebook, YouTube, other social media platforms, and search-engine optimization to increase the prominence of ADA information in Internet searches. The issue was brought forward by members who notice that inaccurate information on the Internet had been increasing. ADA statistics indicate that since 2011, 46 states have faced fluoridation challenges at the state or local level. [Crozier S. Resolution OKs social media campaign for fluoridation. ADA News, Dec 8, 2014]
This page was posted on December 21, 2014.