Consumer Health Digest #17-41
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 5, 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 attacks sale of marijuana derivative as cancer cures. The FDA has ordered four companies—Greenroads Health, Natural Alchemist, That's Natural! Marketing and Consulting, and Stanley Brothers Social Enterprises LLC—to stop selling cannabidiol (CBD) products with unproven claims that they are effective against cancer. The products include oil drops, capsules, syrups, teas, and topical lotions and creams. Some were also marketed as an alternative or additional treatment for Alzheimer's and other serious diseases. CBD is a component of the marijuana plant that is not FDA approved in any drug product for any indication. [FDA warns companies marketing unproven products, derived from marijuana, that claim to treat or cure cancer. FDA news release, Nov 1, 2017]
Naturopath sentenced for illegal HCG distribution. Richard A. Marschall has been sentenced to two months in prison for illegally distributing human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). In 1998, the Washington Board of Naturopathy disciplined Marschall for unprofessional conduct that involved treating an out-of-state patient he had not examined for "functional hypothyroidism"—an alleged condition sometimes referred to as "Wilson's Syndrome." In 2010, Marschall was criminally convicted of illegally marketing HCG for weight loss. In 2013, in response to this conviction, the board disciplined him again. He surrendered his naturopathic license in 2015, but continued to offer services that included "nutritional counseling" "sex hormone balancing," and "constitutional homeopathic energy medicine." However, government investigators found that:
- Between February 2014 and February 2017, Marschall prescribed HCG to about 60 individuals for weight loss.
- Marschall obtained the drug from various compounding pharmacies by lying about the states of his license and DEA registration number.
- In September 2016, two Washington Department of Health investigators went undercover as patients and listened as Marchall touted HCG for weight-loss and described how he would set up a program of injections for them.
- Later that fall, Marschall communicated via email with an undercover FDA criminal investigator, conducted a one-hour telephone screening, and, without meeting or examining the patients, mailed HCG to her at a cost of $550 for a one-month supply.
Quackwatch has a detailed article about Marschall's activities. The striking thing about his case is that despite his long history, no regulator has sought a court order that would permanently stop him from seeing patients. Although is he unlikely to obtain a naturopathic license in the future, he could easily resume practice in a state that does not require licensure.
This page was posted on November 6, 2017.