Consumer Health Digest #15-14
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 5, 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.
Major stem cell marketer loses medical license. The Medical Board of California has revoked the license of William C. Rader, M.D. a psychiatrist who had been supplying fetal stem cell therapy through foreign clinics since the late 1990s. Documents from the medical board proceedings state:
- Rader had formed and operated three companies that provided stem-cell therapy through clinics outside of the United States: Dulcinea Institute, Medra, Inc., and Stem Cell of America, Inc.
- His first clinic, located in Nassau, Bahamas, was moved to the Dominican Republic after Bahamas officials requested he perform double-blind studies. In 2007, after changing locations twice in the Dominican Republic, he moved his operation to Tijuana, Mexico.
- The cost of his treatment—payable in advance—was $25,000 initially but was raised to $30,000.
- Rader's 2010 book, Blocked in the U.S.A., contains many promotional statements that Rader admitted were false. For example, although the book stated that 96% of 1,500 patients he had treated had a positive outcome, he admitted that the figure was only a "general statement" and not the result of a statistical analysis.
The medical board assessment of Rader was quite severe:
[Rader's] dishonest conduct can only be described as self-serving, showing poor character, a lack of integrity, and an unwillingness to follow the law. The Board has reviewed the disciplinary guidelines, and can find no term or condition that could aid Respondent's rehabilitation and still provide protection to the public. Under these circumstances, protection of the public trumps rehabilitation efforts and the Board finds that Respondent's physician and surgeon certificate must be revoked.
Stem cell therapy is a promising area for research. Stem cells have the ability to give rise to many specialized cells in an organism. Certain types of stem cells are already used to restore blood-forming and immune system function after high-dose chemotherapy for some types of cancer, and several other restorative uses have been demonstrated. If scientists can learn how to control stem cell conversion into new, functionally mature cells, doctors might be able to cure many diseases for which therapy is currently inadequate. However, the claims made by commercial promoters go way beyond what is now likely and should be regarded with extreme skepticism. [Barrett S. The shady side of embryonic stem cell therapy. Quackwatch, April 5, 2015]
Free online vaccine course coming. The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is offering a free 6-week online course on vaccines that is scheduled to begin on April 13. The course will be taught through Coursera by Paul Offit, M.D., Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The course will discuss vaccine history, science, benefits, risks, and "controversies" plus updates on new vaccines and recent outbreaks of previously controlled diseases. Each week's content will include video lectures plus quizzes and assessment questions.
"Free footwear" mill broken up. Four medical doctors, one osteopathic physician, and four podiatrists were among 23 defendants named in a 199-count indictment which alleges they participated in a scheme that lured people to corrupt medical clinics for unnecessary services. The indictment states:
- Recruiters for the scheme approached people outside of homeless shelters and welfare offices, and offered them free sneakers if they could produce a Medicaid card and agreed to have their feet examined at a clinic.
- The schemers collected more than $6.9 million from Medicaid and Medicare programs.
This page was revised on December 20, 2016.