Consumer Health Digest #16-33

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 4, 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.

Many Canadian naturopathic ads are violative. Carly Weeks, a reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail, has found that the Web sites of naturopaths who are regulated by the College of Naturopaths of Ontario do not comply with the college's advertising standard. Weeks wrote:

I recently analyzed the websites of the naturopaths licensed to practice in Toronto. Of the roughly 300 regulated, active Toronto naturopaths with an online presence, nearly half appear to be in breach of the . . . rules based on claims made online. The promises are wide-ranging, from naturopaths describing their services as "cutting edge," to those claiming they can reverse the course of dementia, to others who make blanket statements that naturopathy can help anyone with any ailment fully restore his or her health. [Weeks C. Are we being served by the regulation of naturopaths? Not if patients are still being misled. The Globe and Mail, April 28, 2016]

California naturopaths suffer political setback. California's Assembly has failed to pass Senate Bill 538, which leaves naturopaths under physician supervision when prescribing drugs and without the greatly expanded scope of practice they sought. As originally drafted, the bill would have enabled "naturopathic physicians" to order and interpret diagnostic studies, such as X-rays and mammograms, and prescribe drugs without physician supervision, including controlled substances. The bill would also have allowed naturopaths to use parenteral therapy, perform minor office procedures and biopsies, and added "cervical" to permitted routes of administration. [Naturopathic practice expansion fails in California; opportunity to end practice approaches. SFSBM Blog, Sept 4, 2016] California's naturopathic practice act will automatically be repealed as of January 1, 2018, unless the legislature enacts a law deleting or extending that date in its 2017 session.

Meanwhile, former naturopath Britt Hermes's petition urging legislators to oppose naturopathic licensure, scope-of-practice expansion, and inclusion in federal and state health care programs has garnered more than 7,500 signers toward its goal of 10,000. Noting that naturopaths are lobbying aggressively for more legal recognition, she believes that naturopaths do not receive enough medical training to justify their legislative agenda. Hermes's blog provides incisive analyses of naturopathy's shortcomings and propaganda. An article she wrote for Forbes Magazine may have helped defeat S.B. 538.

Holistic dentist sued. G. Robert Evans, DMD, who practices at Groton Wellness in Groton, Massachusetts, has been sued for fraud and negligence by a former patient and her husband. In 2012, when the woman was pregnant, she consulted Evans for a routine cleaning. The complaint alleges:

In 2008, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Dentistry received a complaint from a patient whom Evans and his wife (also a dentist) treated in 2003 and 2004, when they were part of another dental group. The patient reported that Evans performed cavitation surgery four times, two of which included unnecessary extractions of root-canal treated teeth. In 2010, Evans signed a consent agreement under which he agreed to serve on probation for two years and take continuing medical education courses in risk management and in diagnosis and treatment planning. The agreement said he had practiced outside the scope of dentistry and had failed to perform and/or document certain procedures when performing oral surgery. Quackwatch has additional details about Evans and his clinic.

Burzynski proceedings inching forward. The Texas Medical Board's effort to stop Stanislaw Burzynski, M.D. from offering questionable cancer treatments has evolved into an intense legal battle before the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). In July 2014, the board filed a 202-page amended complaint that criticized Burzynski's management of seven patients. The document described an alleged pattern of substandard care that included (a) improperly accepting retainers prior to providing services, (b) failing to adequately evaluate tumor status, (c) lacking a plausible rationale for his drug regimens, (d) failing to provide adequate informed consent, (e) permitting unlicensed, unqualified individuals whom he misrepresented as doctors to treat patients, (f) doing unnecessary tests, (g) failing to keep adequate medical records, (h) charging exorbitant prices for drugs and services, and (i) billing insurance companies improperly. The board's 78-page closing argument, filed last month in the SOAH proceeding, addresses the details of what is currently being litigated. The board and the FDA have been trying on and off for more than 25 years to curb Burzynski's activities.

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This page was posted on September 5, 2016.