Consumer Health Digest #15-43
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 1, 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 report blasts Herbalife. Partnered with the New York City Office of the Public Advocate Letitia James and the Make The Road New York, a New York based advocacy organization, the Office of State Senator Jeff Klein has compiled data on 56 alleged Herbalife victims and investigations of 60 nutrition clubs in The Bronx, Queens, and Brooklyn that provide evidence of deceptive business practices. [The American scheme: Herbalife's pyramid shakedown. October 2015] Their report states:
- Over 60% of new members make initial investments larger than the required $60 to $100 for the new member kit. The average initial investment is $1,800, but some are as high as $10,000.
- Herbalife recruiters claim that supervisors can make as much as $20,000 in monthly income.
- The 56 victims reported nearly $1 million in financial losses ranging from $90 to $100,000. The average loss was about $20,000. Only 8 received a check directly from Herbalife for their royalty claims. The average amount was $100.
Klein plans to introduce a bill that would amend New York State's General Business Law to require health product franchisers to (a) provide meaningful financial disclosures to prospective distributors, (b) have marketing materials approved by the state Attorney General, and (c) increase supervision of their distributors to prevent unlawful and deceptive practices.
Burzynski sued by long-time attorney. Stanislaw Burzynski, M.D., who is facing action by the Texas Medical Board, has been sued by his former attorney, Richard Jaffe. In September 2015, Jaffe filed a petition to force involuntary bankruptcy that would enable Jaffe to collect $248,222 allegedly owed to him for legal fees. Jaffe, who has represented Burzynski and his clinic for nearly 30 years, has also withdrawn from the Medical Board action. The bankruptcy filings list about $1.3 million in debts, but Jaffe says that there are additional creditors, including patients (or surviving relatives) who overpaid and at least one insurance company that is seeking recovery of money previously paid. Jaffe also noted that Burzynski owned property appraised at more than $14 million. Administrative hearings in the board case are scheduled to begin on November 19th. Burzynski's new attorney requested a delay, but the board responded that Burzynski had had ample time to get ready.
Burton lobbying for Scientology. Forbes Magazine has reported that former U.S. Representative Dan Burton is lobbying for the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), an anti-psychiatry group co-founded by the Church of Scientology. Lobbying disclosure reports state that Burton was paid $20,000 to "maintain or increase protection for the public with reference to psychiatric treatments including drugs and brain devices." The Forbes article summarizes Burton's views on vaccination and his relationship with CCHR. [Willingham E. Former U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, vaccine foe, now lobbying for Scientology outfit. Forbes, October 2015]
This page was posted on November 2, 2015.