Consumer Health Digest #17-42
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 12, 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.
"Lyme literate" doctor disciplined again. Bernard Raxlen, M.D., a psychiatrist who markets himself as a specialist in treating Lyme disease, has been disciplined again. Raxlen is part of a small network of doctors who—contrary to prevailing medical beliefs—assert that Lyme disease often becomes chronic and should be treated with long-term antibiotic therapy. His New York clinic Web site states that (a) "over 90% of his practice is now devoted entirely to Chronic Lyme Disease (CLD) and co-infections" and (b) he has treated over 3,500 cases of tick-borne disease. He has been disciplined at least six times:
- In 1999, when Raxlen practiced in Connecticut, he was charged with (a) refusing to send a patient's record when the Connecticut Department of Public Health requested it, (b) inappropriately prescribing several drugs to a patient, and (c) failing to maintain malpractice insurance as required by state law. He was reprimanded and and ordered to pay a $20,000 civil penalty. New York State's licensing authorities subsequently issued a reprimand.
- In 2004, Raxlen was charged with failing to provide the records of 15 patients requested by an insurance company even though each patient had signed a written release. When Connecticut's Health Department repeated the request, he submitted 13 records and stated that he had lost one patient's records.
- In 2005, under a consent agreement, he was reprimanded, ordered to pay a $15,000 civil penalty, and ordered to present new patients with a notice stating that he may be required by law to supply records to insurers and the Health Department. New York State's licensing authorities subsequently fined him $2,500. He let his Connecticut license lapse in 2008.
- In 2017, the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct charged Raxlen with professional misconduct in his management of eight patients. The charges alleged that in each case, he had (a) failed to perform and/or note a comprehensive history, appropriate physical examination, and/or mental status examination, (b) failed to pursue a thorough diagnostic evaluation before arriving at a diagnosis and treatment plan, and (c) inappropriately prescribed medications. The case was settled by a consent order in which he agreed that at least one of the charges could be proved. The order requires him to be on probation for three years, during which (a) his recordkeeping and consent forms must be improved, (b) he must make appropriate referrals, (c) his practice must be monitored by a physician approved by the Director of the Office of Professional Medical Conduct, (d) he must take any continuing educational courses the monitor recommends, and (e) he must cooperate with any future board investigations.
FDA may revoke soy protein/heart disease health claim. The FDA is proposing to revoke the currently authorized claim that consuming soy protein reduces the risk of heart disease. FDA-authorized health claims are intended to reflect well-established relationships based on the most robust level of scientific evidence. To date, 12 such claims have been authorized. The soy-protein claim has been permitted on packaged foods since 1999. In 2000, the American Heart Association Nutrition Advisory Committee concluded that is was prudent to include soy protein in a diet that is low in saturated fat and cholesterol. However, subsequent AHA reviews concluded that although very large amounts of soy protein (more than half the daily protein intake) may lower LDL cholesterol, (a) the experimental data were from individuals with very high cholesterol levels, (b) the reduction is small, (c) there was no improvement in other blood lipid levels or blood pressure, and (d) any direct benefit on cardiovascular health is minimal at best. [Jones DW. Letter to FDA Division of Dockets Management, Feb 19, 2008] A statement released with FDA's recent announcement appears to agree with the AHA position. [Statement from Susan Mayne, Ph.D., on proposal to revoke health claim that soy protein reduces risk of heart disease. FDA news release, Oct 30, 2017] This is the first time the FDA has proposed to revoke an authorized claim.
Eric Braverman facing more legal problems. Eric R. Braverman, M.D., who operates a high-priced "brain health" clinic in New York City, is facing a peck of trouble.
- In 2015, he was found guilty of attempted petty larceny and sentenced to 15 days in jail plus a $175 fine. The case involved his attempt to remove paperwork from a court file related to child-custody proceedings.
- In 2016, the New York Post reported that Braverman had been arrested again and charged with one count of felony sex abuse. The report stated that a criminal complaint had been issued after a woman had accused him of molesting her in his apartment in 2015. A follow-up report stated that he pleaded guilty to harassment and was barred from having further contact with the woman.
- In 2017, Braverman filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, listing assets of $10.7 million and $19.9 million in liabilities. His bankruptcy petition states that he is defending against many lawsuits.
- Last month, the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct charged Braverman with professional misconduct related to his 2015 conviction.
- Last week, the New York Post reported that Braverman has been arrested again and charged with sexually assaulting a female patient at his office.
Quackwatch has a comprehensive article about Braverman's activities and links to relevant documents.
This page was posted on November 12, 2017.