Consumer Health Digest #18-01

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 7, 2018

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H., with help from Stephen Barrett, M.D. 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.

Consumer Health Digest editors swap roles. As of this issue, Dr. London has become the primary author of this newsletter and Dr. Barrett will continue to co-edit and contribute occasional articles. The focus will remain the same.

Manitoba chiropractic regulator issues directives against improper advertising. Last March, a CBC News analysis of Web and Facebook pages of chiropractors in Manitoba revealed dozens of inappropriate health claims. In response, the Manitoba Chiropractors Association (MCA), which regulates the province's chiropractors, issued a statement directing "its members to not provide advice on the topic of vaccination and immunization." Last month, MCA issued a practice directive that says chiropractors must not respond with advice, opinions, or recommendations on topics outside the chiropractic scope of practice (with vaccination and immunization, and use of pharmaceuticals or surgery given as specific examples). So far, five chiropractors have been asked to change content on their sites. [Kubinec V. Nicholson K. Some chiropractors forced to adjust websites after association cracks down on health messaging. CBC News, January 5, 2018]

CFI complains about CVS's homeopathy marketing. The Center for Inquiry has filed a complaint with the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to keep CVS Health from deceptively marketing homeopathic products as proven treatments or displaying them alongside FDA-approved medicines. CFI suggests creating a new homeopathy section in physical and online stores with clear warnings that the products lack evidence of effectiveness for treating any ailment or condition. [CVS must stop marketing homeopathic pseudoscience as real medicine in D.C. Center for Inquiry press release, December 22, 2017]

Neglect of home hospice patients reported. Hospice services, which attempt to provide comfort and alleviate suffering, are available through Medicare to patients with critical illness who are expected to die within six months and who agree to forego further curative treatment. KHN reports that an estimated 1.4 million patients received hospice benefits through Medicare in 2015 and Medicare pays nearly $16 billion per year on hospice services. Private insurance, Medicaid, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs also pay for hospice services. Terminally ill people are often tempted to pursue aggressively promoted, but non-validated, "alternative" treatments touted as potential cures when they would likely suffer much less with hospice care.

A report by Kaiser Health News (KHN) provides perspective on problems in home hospice care in the United States. [Aleccia J. Bailey M. 'No one is coming': hospice patients abandoned at death's door. Kaiser Health News. October 26, 2017] The report notes:

The report was supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and John A. Hartford Foundation.

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This page was posted on January 7, 2018