Consumer Health Digest #18-08
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
February 25, 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.
Recommendations from "The Dr. Oz Show" and "The Doctors" criticized. Georgetown University School of Medicine students identified more than 300 recommendations made during the The Doctors and The Dr. Oz Show that aired during a full month. Then they analyzed a randomly selected subset and reviewed advertising on the shows to assess conflicts of interest. The team found:
- The average number of health recommendations per show averaged 6.91 on the Oz Show and 9.55 on The Doctors.
- Discussion of potential harms or risks were noted in only 8.6% of Dr. Oz's recommendations and in 13.1% of The Doctors' recommendations.
- Close to 80% of the recommendations on both shows did not align with evidence-based medical guidelines, society recommendations, or authority statements.
- The cost of the various recommended interventions was mentioned 23.7% of the time on the Oz Show, and 3.1% of the time for The Doctors.
- In the Oz Show, 13 out of 19 (68.4%) had ads related to general show content, 11/19 (57.9%) had specific products mentioned by the host using their commercial name, and 4/11 (36.3%) shows mentioning products by name named more than one product.
- In The Doctors, 12 out of 18 (66.7%) shows had ads related to general show content, 13 /18 (68.4%) had specific products mentioned by the host using their commercial name and 11/13 (84.6%) shows mentioning products by name named more than one product.
- For both shows, about half of the literature used to support claims was statistically insignificant or required extensive extrapolation. No literature support could be found for about a third of the claims. Of the supporting evidence the investigators could find, about a third had Oxford EBM (Evidence-Based Medicine) classification 3b or lower (the lower end of what's considered good quality evidence).
[Mishori R. Pulling back the curtain on 'The Doctors' and 'The Dr. Oz Show': What our analysis revealed. HealthNewsReview.org, Feb 22, 2018]
Eye doctor sentenced for egregious Medicare fraud scheme. Salomon Melgen, an ophthalmologist who practiced in Florida, has been sentenced to 17 years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release following his conviction on 67 counts of health care fraud and related charges. As part of his scheme to defraud Medicare and other health care benefit programs, he falsely diagnosed Medicare patients with macular degeneration and performed and billed for excessive and medically unnecessary tests and procedures, which included injections of expensive drugs and laser treatments that some elderly patients described as torture. U.S. District Judge Kenneth A. Marra found that the intended fraud loss was over $70 million and the actual fraud loss to Medicare was $42 million. A future hearing will be held to determine losses to other insurance companies and to individual patients. Melgen was ordered to make full restitution to Medicare. [South Florida doctor sentenced in Medicare fraud scheme. USAO press release, Feb 22, 2018]
"Anti-aging" marketer barred from making false and unsupported health claims. Telomerase Activation Sciences and its CEO, Noel Thomas Patton, have agreed in a settlement order to stop making in its advertising unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits, performance, efficacy, safety, or side effects for two "anti-aging" products described in an administrative complaint by the Federal Trade Commission that the company falsely advertised that its products TA-65MD, which comes in capsule and powder forms, and its TA-65 for Skin (TA-65 Skin), a topical cream, reverse aging. TA Sciences has agreed not to:
- advertise unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits, performance, efficacy, safety, or side effects for any drug, food, dietary supplement, or cosmetic, and specifically, TA-65MD and TA-65 Skin
- misrepresent any such products to be clinically proven to reverse human aging, prevent or repair DNA damage, restore aging immune systems, increase bone density, or misrepresent that such evidence or studies exists
- misrepresent that any paid commercial advertising is independent programing
- fail to disclose any material connection between a product endorser and the company
- help anyone else make false or misleading health and efficacy claims
TA Sciences is also required to notify its licensees of the order, monitor the ads of its highest-selling licensees to ensure compliance, terminate any licensee who continues to make prohibited claims, and, within 30 days, notify consumers who bought TA-65MD or TA-65 Skin directly from the company within the past year or through an active continuity program about the FTC order. [New York-based supplement seller barred from false and unsupported health claims. FTC News Release, Feb 21, 2018]
This page was posted on February 26, 2018