Consumer Health Digest #15-21

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 31, 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.

Israel likely to resume fluoridation. Deputy Health Minister Ya'acov Litzman, who took office following the recent Israeli election, has announced that he intends to ask the Israeli legislature to reverse the ban on fluoridation instigated by former Health Minister Yael German last year. [Siegel-Itzkovich J. Litzman seeks to return fluoride to drinking water after ban. The Jerusalem Post, June 1, 2015] From 1970 through 2014, fluoridation was required in communities of 5,000 or more and ultimately reached 70% of Israel's population. But German, whose educational background consists of a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in business administration, and a teaching certificate, appears to believe that fluoridation is dangerous. [Jalil J. Israel to discontinue fluoridation of tap water. The Times of Israel, August 25, 2014]. A petition asking Israel's High Court of Justice to overturn the ban is scheduled to be heard on July 15th.

Wallace Sampson, long-time antiquackery leader, dead at 85. Wallace I. Sampson, M.D., a cancer specialist who devoted considerable time and energy to fighting quackery since the 1970s, has died following a 3-month hospital stay for complications of cardiac surgery. During the 1980s, he chaired the California Cancer Advisory Council, which was a major force in combating cancer frauds in that state. He also served as Clinical Professor of Medicine at Stanford University, board chairman of the National Council Against Health Fraud (1990-1998) and editor of the journal Scientific Review of Alternative Medicine. He frequently expressed alarm at the infiltration of pseudoscientific teachings into medical schools and argued eloquently that the NIH Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine should be abolished. The San Jose Mercury News has published an obituary with additional details.

FTC announces workshop on homeopathic regulation. The Federal Trade Commission plans to host a public workshop on Monday, September 21, 2015 in Washington, DC, to examine advertising for over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic products. The agency has invited the public to submit research, recommendations for topics of discussion, and requests to participate as panelists, and public comments can be submitted electronically until November 20th. In April, the FDA hosted a hearing to discuss its homeopathic regulatory framework. Both agencies may be trying to figure out how to cope with the multitude of irrational products that lack proven value but may have sufficient public support to generate a political backlash if tightly regulated.

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This page was revised on July 21, 2015.