Consumer Health Digest #17-35

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 10, 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.


FDA says it will increase stem cell clinic regulation. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., has announced that the FDA "will be stepping up enforcement actions against clinics that abuse the trust of patients and, more important, endanger their health with unsanitary conditions or by purporting to have treatments which may not provide any benefit." [FDA warns US Stem Cell Clinic of significant deviations. FDA news release, Aug 28, 2017] The agency also posted a warning letter issued to US Stem Cell Clinic of Sunrise, Florida and its Chief Scientific Officer, Kristin Comella, for marketing unapproved stem cell products without FDA approval and for significant deviations from current good manufacturing practice requirements, including some that could impact the sterility of their products. A recent FDA inspection found that the clinic was processing stem cells derived from body fat and administering the product both intravenously or directly into the spinal cord of patients to treat Parkinson's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, and pulmonary fibrosis. In a parallel action, at the FDA's request, U.S. Marshals seized five vials of live vaccinia virus vaccine that had been used or were awaiting use to create an unapproved stem cell product for cancer patients. The FDA's announcement noted that this vaccine is reserved only for people at high risk for smallpox (such as some members of the military) and has considerable potential for harm. [FDA acts to remove unproven, potentially harmful treatment used in 'stem cell' centers targeting vulnerable patients. FDA news release, Aug 28, 2017]


Bill seeks to legalize MLM pyramid schemesH.R. 3409, deceptively titled the "Anti-Pyramid Promotional Scheme Act of 2017," appears to be crafted to weaken government protection against multilevel marketing companies, such as Herbalife, that emphasize recruiting rather than retail sales. The bill's proponents claim that it will provide greater clarity to consumers and companies as to what is and what is not a pyramid scheme. Experts on pyramid schemes, however, believe that the wording is vague and tricky and will have the opposite effect. [Vander Nat P. H.R. 3409: Protecting pyramid schemes, not consumers. Truth in Advertising Web site, Aug 16, 2017] A similar bill introduced last year died in committee.

Quack muscle test debunked. Quackwatch has posted a report on the bi-digital O-ring test (BDORT), a variant of applied kinesiology that is claimed to provide information about internal organs by testing finger strength. To perform the test, the patient positions the thumb and another finger of one hand together to form a circle ("O-ring") while his other hand holds a sample tissue of an internal organ. The practitioner then places his fingers into the circle and tries to pull the patient's fingers apart. Proponents claim that whether or not the circle can be forced open reflects the health status of the patient's organ that corresponds to the tissue sample. BDORT was developed in the early 1980s and patented in 1993 by Yoshiaki Omura, M.D., Sc.D., a physician/acupuncturist who worked in New York City during most of his professional career. BDORT is closely related to Quantum Reflex Analysis, which is also discussed in the report. [Barrett S. Some notes on the bi-digital O-ring test and Quantum Reflex Analysis. Quackwatch, Sept 10, 2017] The idea that muscle-testing can determine the status of the body's organs or provide a basis for treating health problems is preposterous. Despite this, thousands of practitioners use such tests.


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This page was posted on September 10, 2017.