Consumer Health Digest #17-31
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 6, 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.
FTC, FCC escalate anti-robocall efforts. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has announced that every day, American consumers report tens of thousands of robocalls, which are the agency's top complaint category, with more than 1.9 million filed in the first five months of 2017 alone. Under a new initiative, when consumers report violations, the violators' numbers will be released daily to telecommunications carriers and other industry partners that are implementing call-blocking solutions. The data will also be posted to the Do Not Call (DNC) Reported Calls Data Web page. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is exploring ways to verify whether phone calls are really coming from the phone number shown in the caller ID or use fake numbers (a practice known as "spoofing"). The agency is also aiming to develop a "Do-Not-Originate" list that would help carriers block spoofed calls purporting to be from numbers that do not make calls, such specific in-bound-only phone lines used by entities like the IRS or numbers using non-existent area codes. Within the past two months, the FCC also:
- Proposed a $120 million fine against an individual who apparently used "neighbor spoofing" while making nearly 100 million robocalls to sell timeshares. [Citation and order. In the matter of Adrian Abramovich et al. FTC File No. EB-TCD-15-00020488, June 22, 2017]
- Fined a New Mexico company $2.8 million for providing a robocalling platform which also allowed easy caller ID manipulation. The FCC determined that the company had blasted out 4.7 million unsolicited robocalls to cell phones during a 3-month period. [Forfeiture order. In the matter of Dialing Services LLC. FCC File No. EB-TCD-12-00001812, July 13, 2017]
- Proposed an $82 million fine against Philip Roesel and his company, Wilmington Insurance Quotes, which apparently made more than 21 million illegally spoofed robocalls in violation of the Truth in Caller ID Act. Acting on a tip from a medical paging company, the FCC's Enforcement Bureau subpoenaed Roesel's call records and identified 82,106 health insurance telemarketing calls made between October 2016 and January 2017 with falsified caller ID information. [Citation and order. In the matter of Best Insurance Contracts and Phillip Roesel dba Wilmington Insurance Quotes. FTC File No. EB-TCD-16-00023195, Aug 4, 2007]
Survey shows widespread vaccination support. A survey sponsored by the Pew Foundation has found that 82% of American ages 18 and older support requiring measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine for public school children in order to protect public health. Support levels ranged from 90% of those aged 65+ to 77% among those aged 18 to 29. [Vast Majority of Americans Say Benefits of Childhood Vaccines Outweigh Risks. Pew Research Center, February, 2017] The report also looked at links between vaccine beliefs and usage of "alternative" and conventional medicine.
High-potency hydrogen peroxide danger. A record review of 294 patients seen at U.S. poison centers who had ingested large amounts of 35% hydrogen peroxide has found that 41 (13.9%) of them experienced embolic events such as seizures, a stroke, or pulmonary embolism, and 20 (6.8%) became disabled or died as a result. [Hatten BW and others. Outcomes after high-concentration peroxide ingestion. Annals of Emergency Medicine 69:726-736e2, 2017]. The FDA has been concerned about the misuse of industrial strength hydrogen therapy for more than 30 years.
This page was posted on August 7, 2017.