Consumer Health Digest #18-04
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 24, 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.
MD/naturopath caught dispensing diet drug online. At the request of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), people in Georgia and another state completed a sign-up form and an online questionnaire at www.georgiabariatrics.com, received notification from the site that they were registered as patients, and then received the weight-loss drug phentermine via Federal Express. (Phentermine is a controlled substance similar to amphetamine and is approved for short-term weight loss.) The AJC investigation was prompted by an informant who had alleged that phentermine could be obtained without a medical exam through the Website of Columbus, Georgia-based weight-loss practice of Jan McBarron, M.D., a licensed physician in Georgia. A former employee of the practice had reportedly told AJC that McBarron's online sales of phentermine began a decade ago. The AJC also reported:
- For 15 years ending in 2014, McBarron and her husband Duke Liberatore hosted a daily radio program, "Duke and the Doctor" that regularly touted vitamins and supplements as alternatives to prescription drugs. (In 2014 Duke and McBarron sold Peachtree Natural Foods, which marketed "vitamins, supplements, natural remedies, and organic foods for more than 20 years." [Gierer L. Peachtree Natural Foods sold to company in Utah. Ledger-Enquirer, Jan 20, 2014])
- McBarron has promoted similar alternatives in her books including her 2012 book claiming that curcumin, a chemical in the spice turmeric, prevents and reverses cancer, dementia, etc.
- McBarron has sold supplements on her Website and a "fat burning injection" advertised as seven vitamins in a B-12 "base." [Robbins D. Ga. doctor prescribed weight-loss drug to patients she never saw. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 22, 2017]
The biographical sketch for McBarron's curcumin book states:
Dr. Jan McBarron received her M.D. from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia and was the fourth female in the country to become board certified in bariatric medicine. She is a member of the American Medical Association and the American Society of Bariatric Physicians. She volunteered with the 1996 Olympics, has been honored by the Girl Scouts as a "Woman of Achievement" and the Natural Products Association awarded her the "Clinician of the Year" for 2010. While practicing bariatrics and preventive medicine, Dr. McBarron became disenchanted with the mainstream allopathic medical system and its side effects. She subsequently earned a doctorate in naturopathic medicine and is one of the elite few to hold both medical and naturopathic degrees. She believes this enables her to see the complete picture and offer the best in complementary medicine. Dr. McBarron taught at Columbus State University, writes for several newspapers and has appeared on numerous radio and television interviews. She is the author of several books including the best-selling Flavor Without Fat, Being A Woman Naturally, Hormonal Harmony and The Peachtree Diet. In addition to her private medical practice, Georgia Bariatrics in Columbus, GA, Dr. McBarron co-hosts the #1 nationally syndicated health talk radio show "Duke and The Doctor," with her husband, Duke Liberatore. Talkers Magazine has ranked them in the top 100 most important radio hosts in America. They are broadcast in over 125 markets nationwide. For a list of their radio station affiliates visit www.dukeandthedoctor.com.
The sources of McBarron's "board certification" and naturopathic degree are not apparent online.
In 1999, McBarron got into trouble in connection with her weight-control practices when Georgia's Composite Medical Board alleged that she had:
- Diagnosed and recommended unproven herbal or other natural remedies to unknown callers in connection with her television broadcasts.
- Dispensed an indeterminable dosage of thyroid hormone without clear laboratory and/or clinical evidence of hypothyroidism.
- Dispensed thyroid hormone as treatment for obesity contrary to generally accepted and approved indications, and without proper precautions.
- Failed to provide adequate records that she had conducted a physical examination or reviewed the medical history of a patient for whom she improperly dispensed a thyroid hormone for weight loss and ultimately suffered hyperthyroidism followed by having her thyroid removed.
Without admitting wrongdoing, McBarron signed a consent order agreeing to "not solicit patients for her office by offering to dispense controlled substances." The order placed her on probation, which was lifted in 2001. The events reported in AJC article appear to indicate that she has violated the consent order.
Warnings posted against illegal opioid-cessation product marketing. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have issued joint warning letters to 11 companies for illegally marketing products with unproven claims about their ability to help treat opioid addiction and withdrawal: Opiate Freedom Center (Opiate Freedom 5-Pack); U4Life, LLC (Mitadone); CalmSupport, LLC (CalmSupport); TaperAid (TaperAid & TaperAid Complete); Medicus Holistic Alternatives, LLC (Natracet); NutraCore Health Products, LLC (Opiate Detox Pro); Healthy Healing, LLC (Withdrawal Support); Soothedrawal, Inc. (Soothedrawal); Choice Detox Center, Inc. (Nofeel); GUNA, Inc. (GUNA-ADDICT 1); and King Bio, Inc. (AddictaPlex). [FTC, FDA warn companies about marketing and selling opioid cessation products. FTC press release, Jan 24, 2018] The FTC sent four additional warning letters to other marketers of opioid cessation products. In coordination with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the FTC has issued a fact sheet to help consumers get genuine help while avoiding products that promise but do not deliver it.
Baseless nutrition claims in Super Bowl champion's 2017 book scrutinized. Health writer Julia Belluz has taken a close look at the extremely restrictive diet that is a key part of the personal training approach that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady follows, as described in The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance. Brady claims his diet is "anti-inflammatory" and composed of 80% "alkaline" foods, but Belluz challenges his nutrition claims and correctly notes:
- Avoiding supposedly acidifying foods in order to balance the body's pH level and improve health and athletic performance is not supported by evidence.
- No evidence supports his diet for improving muscle recovery, but adequate carbohydrate intake can replenish depleted glycogen and protein can help muscle building.
- Anti-inflammatory diets need not be as restrictive as Brady's diet.
[Belluz, J. Tom Brady's new diet book makes some strange claims about body chemistry. Vox, Jan. 27, 2018]
This page was posted on January 29, 2018