Consumer Health Digest #15-06
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 8, 2015
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.
New York Attorney General targets herbal marketers. New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has sent letters ordering GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens to stop selling store-brand herbal products that could not be verified to contain the labeled substance(s), or which were found to contain ingredients not listed on their labels. The products included echinacea, ginseng, and St. John's wort. The letters were sent because DNA tests performed as part of the Attorney General's ongoing investigation found that only 21% of the products contained ingredients listed on their labels. Quackwatch has more details plus links to the warning letters. The investigation was triggered by a New York Times report about a Canadian study which found widespread discrepancies between the ingredients listed on the labels of 44 popular products and those found in the products.
Class-action suit filed against "memory supplement" marketers. A class-action suit has been filed against Quincy Bioscience LLC, which has marketed Prevagen for several years. The company claims that the product works by re-supplying memory-related proteins that decline as people age. The complaint charged:
- The product cannot work as advertised because its only purported active ingredient, apoaequorin (a protein), is completely destroyed by the digestive system and transformed into common amino acids no different than those derived from other common food products.
- The amount of amino acids Prevagen adds to the user's intake are trivial in comparison to normal dietary intake.
- Claims that clinical tests demonstrate that Prevagen will improve memory and support healthy brain function, sharper mind, and clearer thinking are false.
- Studies touted in Prevagen's marketing campaign "if they exist at all, are, on their face, so seriously flawed that they demonstrate nothing regarding Prevagen."
In 2012, the FDA warned Quincy that (a) several claims made for Prevagen were illegal, (b) clinical trials it had sponsored were illegal because they lacked FDA approval, (c) the company had failed to adequately report adverse reactions to its products, and (d) the company had failed to comply with various Good Manufacturing Practices.
Anti-vaccination objections debunked. Outbreak News Today, a Web site focused on science-based information about infectious diseases, has interviewed Paul Offit, M.D., Ph.D., about an article called "10 Reasons Not to Vaccinate" that had been posted to an anti-vaccination Web site (VacTruth.com). The interview was done in response to concerns about recent measles cases that could have been prevented by vaccination. Offit is director of the Vaccine Education Center and a professor of pediatrics in the Division of Infectious Diseases at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. In addition to providing the relevant facts, he lamented that "it is much easier to scare people than to unscare them." The 45-minute interview is available online.
This page was posted on February 8, 2015.