Consumer Health Digest #17-48

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
December 31, 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.

"Integrative medicine" caucus announced. Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO) and Mike Coffman (R-CO) have launched the Integrative Health and Wellness Congressional Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives. The caucus's stated purpose is to "serve as a non-partisan educational forum for legislators to receive up-to-date information from experts related to best practices and new research, and to discuss legislative and administrative opportunities for integrative health." The press release announcing their move states:

Integrative health emphasizes prevention, health creation, health promotion and general well-being, and includes therapies like acupuncture, chiropractic, and mindfulness. At a time when the most expensive drains on our nation's health dollars are chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, integrative approaches can offer improved outcomes with lower costs. While at least a third of Americans use complementary or alternative medicines, access is often inconsistent. This caucus will provide a platform for legislators to participate together and focus on the important opportunity that integrative health and wellness approaches offers across federally funded health programs, and find ways to make these solutions more available to the American people. [Polis, Coffman launch bipartisan Integrative Health and Wellness Caucus, citing successes of integrative health treatments. Office of Jared Polis. Press release, Oct 25, 2017]

"Integrative medicine" does not have a definable scope. It is a marketing slogan used by practitioners who claim to combine "alternative" and mainstream approaches to medicine to provide the best of both approaches. This may sound reasonable, but (a) the term is actually a smokescreen behind which enthusiasts routinely use dubious practices and (b) some of the preventive measures they embrace are part of standard care and others simply don't work. [Barrett S. Be wary of "alternative," "complementary," and "integrative" health methods. Quackwatch, Oct 30, 2017] It remains to be seen whether caucus members will promote approaches that will improve health care in the U.S. or merely add to its cost.

"Indigenous healer" network formed. Credential Watch has published a an article about the formation of a provider network intended to help practitioners practice without regulation by state agencies. Its formation appears to have been spearheaded by Eric A. Dover, M.D., whose Oregon medical license was revoked in 2013 but is still offering treatments as a "certified traditional tribal healer" through his Seli Wellness Center in Oswego, Oregon. [Barrett S. Some notes on Eric Dover, M.D., the Indigenous Health Care Practitioners Organization, and the Turtle Island Providers Network. Casewatch, Dec 30, 2017] Participants in the Turtle Island Providers Network represent themselves as "licensed" by its affiliated First Nation Medical Board and assert that their practices are "private membership associations" whose members are not subject to government regulation. Whether this set-up protects the practitioners remains to be seen.

Iowa AG hits herbal "memory" pill. Iowa's attorney general has secured an agreement under which the marketers of an herbal product claimed to "reduce memory loss" and "ignite your brain's true powers and potential" paid $35,000 to the State and must stop targeting Iowa residents. [Seller of Intellux barred from Iowa after falsely claiming that older users experienced "drastic" improvements in memory. Iowa Attorney General news release, Dec 22, 2017] The agreement, secured through a consent judgment filed in Polk County District Court, bars JGG Enterprises Inc. and its owner, Joseph Gregory Grelock, from further marketing in Iowa of Intellux or any other dietary supplement that involves claims of health benefits that are not supported by "competent and reliable scientific evidence." The defendants, who deny liability, agreed to pay $25,000 in refunds to more than 180 Iowa consumers and an additional $10,000 to support future enforcement of Iowa's Consumer Fraud Act. This is the seventh dietary supplement case that the Iowa AG has pursued during the past five years. Although such cases are important, they rarely result in stopping sales in other states. Consumer protection would be greatly enhanced if state attorneys general were given the ability to obtain federal court orders that would apply nationwide. However, the U.S. Congress has been unwilling to legislate this.

Clearance sale of chiropractic books. Quackwatch's book service is offering three books at greatly reduced prices to buyers within the United States.

To the above prices, add $3 for the first book and $1 for each additional book and send payment to Stephen Barrett, M.D., 287 Fearrington Post, Pittsboro, NC 27312.

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This page was posted on January 1, 2018