Consumer Health Digest #17-18

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 30, 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.

Romania has massive measles outbreak. Romania is experiencing a massive outbreak of measles that began last year. As of March 21, at least 3,800 cases of measles, including 17 deaths, have been confirmed and rates in surrounding countries have risen. Measles vaccination is about 97% effective in preventing the disease. "Herd immunity" (prevention of widespread transmission) occurs when when coverage is 90% to 95%, but the higher the better. Romanians became susceptible to epidemic spread because the rate of 2-dose immunization dropped from 96% in 2007 to 86% in 2015. The factors influencing the drop are poverty, neglect, and the spread of antivaccine sentiments. Romania is one of six nations in the European Union or European Economic Area judged by the World Health Organization to still have endemic transmission of the vaccine-preventable disease. The others are Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, and Poland. The Respectful Insolence Blog has a detailed analysis of what happened in Romania.

Eighteen marketers ordered to stop making illegal cancer claims. The FDA has posted 14 warning letters and 4 advisory letters addressed to U.S.-based companies illegally selling a total of 77 products claimed to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure cancer. The products are marketed and sold without FDA approval, most commonly on websites and social media platforms. The warning letter database contains more than 200 letters issued since 2005.

Alleged fake naturopath facing criminal charges. Isabel Gervais, who operated the Euro Med Klinic in Hoover, Alabama, has been charged with six counts of wire fraud affecting a financial institution, one count of false statements, and two counts of aggravated identity theft. The indictment states:

The maximum penalty for wire fraud affecting a financial institution is 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. Aggravated identity fraud carries a two-year mandatory minimum prison sentence to run consecutive to any other sentence imposed.

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This page was posted on May 1, 2017.