Consumer Health Digest #18-09

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 4, 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.

Stem cell treatment advertising by "CAM" practitioners analyzed. An investigation of 368 Web sites found through Google with search terms combining stem cell with various buzzwords and practitioner names associated with "complementary and alternative medicine" has revealed:

The investigators concluded:

Many clinics seem to be engaging in scienceploitation, which can seriously obfuscate public discourse, mislead the public and make it difficult to discern real science from marketing claims that merely reference scientific sounding terminology. The marketing of unproven stem cell therapies has the potential to harm patients and to harm the reputation of stem cell science. It is incumbent on regulators and policymakers to take a proactive approach to managing the risks associated with the growing private market for stem cell-related interventions, and addressing misleading marketing practices is an important part of this strategy.

[Murdoch B and others. Exploiting science? A systematic analysis of complementary and alternative medicine clinic websites' marketing of stem cell therapies. BMJ Open 8(2), March 2, 2018]

Ad agency barred from making deceptive weight-loss marketing pitches. Minneapolis-based Marketing Architects, Inc. (MAI) has agreed to pay $2 million to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the State of Maine Attorney General's Office to settle the regulators' joint complaint that the advertising firm created and disseminated radio ads with allegedly false or unsubstantiated weight-loss claims and deceptive risk-free offers for AF Plus and Final Trim, which were marketed by its client, Direct Alternatives. The proposed stipulated order for permanent injunction bans MAI from:

The FTC Act says that advertising agencies have a duty to make an independent check on the information used to substantiate ad claims. They may not rely on an advertiser's assurance that the claims are substantiated. In determining whether an ad agency should be held liable, the FTC looks at (a) the extent of the agency's participation in the preparation of the challenged ad and (b) whether the agency knew or should have known that the ad included false or deceptive claims. [Advertising FAQ's: A guide for small business. FTC Web site, April 2001]

Basis for six-month intervals for dental visits explored. Grant Ritchey, DDS examined the historic and scientific literature for recommending dental examination and prophylaxis literature every six months and noted that:

[Ritchey, G. The Six Month Dental Recall—Science or Legend? Science-Based Medicine. Feb 23, 2018]

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