Consumer Health Digest #16-32

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 21, 2016

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.

UK homeopathic product sales decline further. The number of National Health Service prescriptions filled in England's community pharmacies has fallen steadily and is 95% lower than its peak nearly 20 years ago. In 2015, there were just 8,894 prescriptions, down from 10,238 in 2014. The total cost of these prescriptions has dropped to £94,313, the first time it has been below £100,000. [Homeopathy on the NHS: at death's door. The Nightingale Collaboration, April 26, 2016] In recent years, NHS review bodies have issued very unfavorable reports and the British Advertising Authority has banned efficacy claims in advertising. Homeopathy is pseudoscience based on notions that (a) a substance that produces symptoms in a healthy person can cure ill people with similar symptoms and (b) that infinitesimal doses can be highly potent. [Barrett S. Homeopathy: The ultimate fake. Quackwatch, Aug 22, 2016]

NutriMost practitioner surrenders chiropractic license. Genene Prado, D.C. (also known as Genene Gonser-Prado, D.C.), who operates NutriMost Austin, has voluntarily surrendered her chiropractic license. Between 2007 and 2014, The Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners disciplined Prado three times. In 2007, she signed an agreed order that she pay a $600 fine for "failing to use due diligence by failing to register her facility." In 2009, she signed an agreed order (shown below) that she pay a $1,500 administrative penalty to settle a charge that she had advertised in the Austin American Statesman using "testimonials of persons that are not her patients and did not have a signed statement from those persons to support the statements made." In 2014, she signed another agreed order under which she was fined $1,500 for placing a newspaper ad for services outside of a chiropractor's scope of practice. In February 2016, the board's enforcement committee recommended revocation of her chiropractic license and facility registrations for (a) improperly using the term "physician"; (b) advertising false statements; (c) practicing outside the scope of practice for a chiropractor; (d) failing to display the public information placard, license, and facility registration; and (e) violating two previous agreed orders. In a formal complaint to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), the board also noted that she had "failed to differentiate her chiropractic clinic from the other businesses or enterprises she operates from her chiropractic clinic by operating under the guise of the Pastoral Medical Association . . . to sell NutriMost supplements and a cosmetic weight-loss program." Rather than proceed with the SOAH hearing, Prado closed her chiropractic clinic and voluntarily surrendered her chiropractic license in exchange for dismissing the charges. The NutriMost system includes a very-low-calorie diet and products supposedly formulated with the use of a ZYTO device, which is not FDA-cleared for any such purpose. Prado now appears to be operating as a practitioner-member of the Pastoral Medical Association, a private membership association that issues "licenses" that do not convey any state-recognized legal right to treat patients. The chiropractic board appears to regard NutriMost as a "cosmetic" program, but Prado's activities include advice to people with serious health problems who experience adverse effects from the diet. It remains to be seen whether the State of Texas will permit her to continue to provide patient care without a recognized health-care license.

Another "holistic" doctor in trouble. The Florida Board of Medicine has charged Bruce Hal Berman, M.D., with practicing medicine while his license was under suspension. The suspension, which was to run for six months starting on June 15, 2015, resulted from an agreement to settle charges of prescribing excessive amounts of Oxycodone and/or other controlled drugs to nine patients. The suspension document also called for (a) payment of a $30,000 fine plus costs, (b) completion of continuing education courses, (c) use of a practice monitor, and (d) a permanent ban on owning, operating, or practicing in a pain management clinic. In August 2015, an undercover investigator who visited Berman as a patient was told that he might have Lyme disease. Berman founded the Palm Beach Holistic Center in Jupiter, Florida, which, according to its Web site, "specializes in managing and healing often misdiagnosed and chronic conditions such as digestive problems, hormone imbalance, recurring infections such as Lyme disease and chronic mono, irritable bowel syndrome, widespread inflammation, allergies, anxiety, fibromyalgia, mood swings, chronic fatigue syndrome, fluid retention, lost vitality, and other conditions that are not addressed adequately by conventional medicine." The treatments offered include the BX Protocol, which the site describes as a "revolutionary treatment" for cancer, Lyme disease, and autoimmune disorders. Rational Wiki has an skeptical article about the BX Protocol.

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This page was posted on August 22, 2016.