Consumer Health Digest #18-12

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 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.

"Master herbalist and iridologist" charged in diabetic boy's death. The Los Angeles City Attorney has charged Timothy Morrow, 83, with child abuse causing death and practicing medicine without a license. The City Attorney's press release describes the circumstances this way:

During 2014, Morrow allegedly began to treat the 13-year-old victim for his diabetes by prescribing herbs in lieu of the insulin the victim's pediatrician had prescribed. In August, 2014, Morrow allegedly came to the family's Harbor Gateway home to treat the 13-year-old victim after he became sick and semi-comatose due to complications from his Type-1 diabetes. Shortly before the victim died, Morrow allegedly told the victim's parents not to give him insulin but instead to administer the herbal oils that he was selling. The victim suffered a cardiac arrest and died the next day as a result of complications from his diabetes. The medical examiner determined the victim would have lived had he received proper medical treatment.

Morrow's YouTube channel offers 40 videos and has 2,700 subscribers. His current "Message from Our Founder"on the Common Sense Herbal Products Web site describes him as a "Master Herbalist and Iridologist" to whom God began talking about herbs over 25 years ago. The site includes a page offering a "Social Network Marketing System" as a business opportunity along with a home business compensation plan structured like many other multilevel marketing companies. Morrow's mission page claims: "Keep in mind: there are no side effects to herbs, no labels that read "Keep Out of Reach of Children." These herbs, in fact, are gentle enough for children."

According to Morrow's attorney, Sanford Perliss, since Edgar's death, "no one did anything to indicate that Morrow did anything wrong"—no efforts have been made to take away his business license and Edgar's parents have not sued him. If convicted of the charges, which are misdemeanors, Morrow faces up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine. He is scheduled for arraignment on March 27th. [Herbalist charged in death of boy with diabetes. CBS/AP, March 7, 2018]

Medicine affordability recommendations made for the U.S. An ad hoc committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine has issued a 235-page report on Making Medicines Affordable: A National Imperative. The report includes 14 findings about the complexity of the biopharmaceutical marketplace, 18 findings about factors influencing affordability of prescription drugs, and these eight recommendations (each accompanied by suggested actions):

Pages 52 and 53 cover Medicare drug price negotiation in detail. Pages 96 to 98 discuss drug reimportation. The full report can be read online or downloaded free of charge by registered users of the Academy's site.

Pricing information lacking on funeral home Web sites. Only 30 (16%) of 193 funeral homes with Web sites in 25 small- and medium-sized state capitals posted the price information that the Federal Trade Commission's Funeral Rule requires them to hand to customers who ask, according to the latest pricing report prepared by the Funeral Consumers Alliance (FCA) and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA). Only 53 (27%) of the sites posted any prices. The report indicates that the average funeral costs more than $7,000. The FTC's Funeral Rule, which was issued in 1984, did not address the potential for consumers to shop online and seek low prices. A 2017 phone survey of a sample of 1,000 representative Americans indicated that 79% favored a requirement that funeral homes with Web sites disclose online the same price information they are required to make available in person. [Few funeral homes in 25 cities disclose useful price information on their websites. CFA press release, Jan 29, 2018]

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This page was posted on March 27, 2018