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:
- In 2015, Gervais opened the Euro Med Klinic in Hoover using the alias, Dr. Rose Starr and claiming to have years of experience and various credentials, including a license to practice medicine in Alabama and throughout the world.
- She further represented that her credentials included Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.), Doctor of Holistic Medicine (H.M.D.), Doctor of Oriental Medicine (O.M.D.), and Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine (N.M.D.). [M.B.B.S. is the equivalent of an M.D. degree.]
- Acting as Dr. Starr, Gervais promised patients that she could provide various medical services. She ran various tests and prescribed various substances to these patients.
- Through her misrepresentations about her name, licensure and qualifications, she fraudulently induced patients to pay her thousands of dollars.
- She also misappropriated the identity of one patient to fraudulently charge the patient's credit card without consent, and misappropriated the identity of another individual and fraudulently used it to set up a post office box.
- She also used the names Deborah Lynne Goodman, Debra Lynn Goodman, Debrah Lynne Smith, Debra Lynn Smith, Rose Marie Starr, Debrah Goodman-Starr, Debra Lynn Holland, and Isabell Kesari Scott.
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.
This page was posted on May 1, 2017.