Consumer Health Digest #17-14

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 2, 2017

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. Its primary focus is on health, but occasionally it includes non-health scams and practical tips.

Be wary of online ticket scalping. Quackwatch has posted an article about the dark side of the ticket resale marketplace. [Barrett S. Don't get misled by online ticket resellers. Quackwatch, April 2, 2017] Many resellers use URLs that are similar to box-office sites and get top search engine placements with paid ads. On most reseller sites, most prices are higher than the original ticket prices, and the seats you get may differ from what you expect. In some cases, the tickets will be counterfeit or will never get delivered. It is safest to deal with the official venue Web site. Official sites that do not sell tickets directly will either link to an online service agency (such as Ticketmaster) and/or provide a phone number to call for reservations. The Quackwatch article advises:

"Holistic" M.D. placed on probation. Dan O. Harper, M.D., who operates Be Well Associates in Solana Beach, California, signed a consent agreement under which he was placed on three years' probation during which he is required to take continuing education courses in ethics and record-keeping and either have a practice monitor or complete a clinical enhancement program. In 2015, he was charged with negligence and failure to keep adequate records in connection with treating a patient. The accusation expressed concerns about his use of homeopathic "energy water," craniosacral therapy, healing touch, ozone therapy, "cold" red laser treatment, frequency specific microcurrent (FSM), and [applied] kinesiology. The consent agreement did not specify that he should stop these dubious practices, so it is not clear what effect it will have. Harper's "consent for treatment" form includes these provisions:

Australian blogger convicted of lying about brain tumor. A federal court judge has concluded that 25-year-old Belle Gibson lacked a rational or reasonable basis to believe she had cancer when she made public claims about it to promote her book and apps. Gibson's book, The Whole Pantry, claimed: (a) she was diagnosed with brain cancer and told she would die within four months, (b) she had some standard treatment but then embarked on a "quest" to heal herself through "nutrition and holistic medicine," (c) diet and natural treatments had extended her life. The criminal case against Gibson was initiated by Consumer Affairs Victoria. Consumer Affairs Victoria also obtained enforceable undertaking in which the book's publisher (Penguin Australia Pty Ltd) acknowledged that statements in the book were false and agreed to donate AUS$30,000 to the Victorian Consumer Fund. Press reports state that Gibson took in more than AUS$1 million from her book and app. [Brown V, Sullivan R. Judgment in Belle Gibson vs. Consumer Affairs Victoria case handed down., March 16, 2017]

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This page was posted on April 2, 2017.