Consumer Health Digest #15-50
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 20, 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.
Fake peer review is a problem for scientific journals. An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine has called attention to the problem of peer-review fraud, wherein people chosen to review manuscripts are associated with the author or are the author using a fake identify. [Haug CJ. Peer-review fraud: Hacking the scientific publication process. New England Journal of Medicine 373:2393-2395, 2015] The editorial writer notes:
- Within the past few years, more than 250 articles that underwent fake peer-review have been retracted.
- Most of the articles originated from China and Southeast Asia.
- Pressure to publish, quickly and preferably in the very best journals, can influence both authors and editors to game the system.
- Verifying the identity of peer-reviewers should reduce the problem, but new ways of gaming the traditional publication models will be invented more quickly than new control measures can be put in place.
Consumer Reports steps up anti-robocall campaign. In mid-December, activists organized by Consumers Union's "End Robocalls" campaign demonstrated at CenturyLink's offices in Phoenix and delivered over 500,000 petition signatures to demand free, advanced tools to automatically block unwanted robocalls. At the event, End Robocalls campaign manager Tim Marvin pointed out that robocalls aren't just annoying and noted that consumers lose an estimated $350 million a year to phone scams. Landline companies have the technology to address the problem but so far have refused to promise to do so. Meanwhile, new data indicate that the robocall problem may be getting worse. Even though the FTC's Do Not Call list has increased from 218 to 223 million during the past year, the agency received more than 3.5 million complaints. Interested persons can help by adding their names to Consumer Reports' petition.
Vaccination advocacy group expands scope. In anticipation of its 25-year anniversary, Every Child By Two (ECBT) has expanded its original mission of ensuring timely vaccination of all children by the age of two to include people of all ages. Its enhanced Web site and Facebook pages present scientifically-accurate information on vaccines needed at each stage of life; details about the burden of vaccine-preventable diseases; answers to questions about the safety of vaccines; personal stories from families who have been affected by deadly but preventable infectious diseases; and links to other reliable sources.
Diana Schwarzbein reprimanded. The Medical Board of California has issued a public letter reprimanding Diana Schwarzbein, M.D. for "repeated negligent acts." The letter states that her diagnosis of "adrenal burnout" by interpreting an adrenal stress index was a departure from the standard of care. Schwarzbein, who wrote The Schwarzbein Principle and three related books, is described on her book jackets as "a leading authority of metabolic healing." Her writings and videos assert that "adrenal burnout" is an underlying cause of obesity and many other health problems. Her proposed treatments include expensive supplement programs.
This page was posted on December 20, 2015.