Consumer Health Digest #19-11
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 17, 2019
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.
Amazon removes "autism cure" books. Amazon has removed from the book section of its online marketplace Healing the Symptoms Known as Autism, which recommends treatment with chlorine dioxide bleach, and Fight Autism and Win, which recommends treatment with the chelation agent DMSA. [Zadrozny B. Amazon removes books promoting autism cures and vaccine misinformation. NBC News. Mar 12, 2019] The removal came after Wired published an article that criticized Amazon for having an online marketplace rife with books advocating scientifically unproven and potentially fatal autism treatments. The article focused on the two books that are no longer available on Amazon. [Reynolds M. Amazon sells 'autism cure' books that suggest children drink toxic, bleach-like substances. Wired. Mar 11, 2019] Many books promoting dubious treatments for autism and books that falsely claim that vaccines cause autism remain on sale at Amazon. The American Council on Science and Health has castigated companies that are marketing useless homeopathic products—also available on Amazon—that exploit unfounded vaccination fears by promising to protect against vaccine "toxicity." [Bloom J. Homeopathy supplement peddler's despicable anti-vaccine goldmine. ACSH Web site, March 16, 2019]
John Oliver blasts addiction treatment industry practices. Last year, in a brilliant 19-minute segment of his HBO program Last Week Tonight, comedian John Oliver exposed:
- unsupported advertising claims of high rates addiction treatment success in the U.S.
- use of untested treatment approaches
- lack of inclusion of evidence-based treatment approaches in many programs
- dangerous lack of regulation of the addiction treatment industry
- lack of barriers to opening outpatient programs and sober homes in some states
- exploitation of insurance payments for testing urine for drug exposure in Florida by arranging kickbacks from testing facilities
- patient brokering ("junkie hunting"), which involves enticing well-insured addicts with free rent, food, and cigarettes to gain access to their insurance coverage
- financial incentives for addicts to relapse and return to retreatment (the "Florida Shuffle")
- advertised phone networks that refer callers seeking treatment to programs that pay referrals
- Web sites that provide reviews of a treatment center that are actually owned by the center
Oliver appropriately recommended that people seeking addiction treatment use the physician lookup tool at the American Board of Preventive Medicine to search for physicians board-certified in addiction medicine.
Anti-vaccine views promoted by chiropractic regulators. Wayne McPhail and Paul Benedetti have revealed how three senior College of Chiropractors of Ontario (CCO) council members have posted anti-vaccine messages, endorsed anti-vaccine books and documentaries, and made statements that encourage the notion that vaccination is dangerous. [MacPhail W. Benedetti P. Three senior members of the council that regulates Ontario chiropractors have made anti-vaccination statements. National Post. Mar 15, 2019] On March 14th, after the investigators requested comments from the trio, the CCO issued a Professional Advisory on Vaccination, which states:
As part of its role to protect the public interest, the College of Chiropractors of Ontario (CCO) recognizes that vaccinations, as mandated in the Province of Ontario, provide a safe and effective means to protect individuals from infectious diseases. CCO reminds members and the public that treating or advising in relation to vaccination is outside of the chiropractic scope of practice.
On March 16th, MacPhail tweeted:
If the @ONChiroAssoc and the @CanChiroAssoc want to truly advocate for public safety and evidence-based chiro they should have zero tolerance for anti-vax sympathizers. If not, they are PR hacks for nonsense, not true champions for a modern healthcare profession.
Last year McPhail and Benedettic reported that the CCO has done almost nothing to stop chiropractors from exaggerating what they can do. [Benedetti P. MacPhail W. Chiropractors at a crossroads: the fight for evidence-based treatment and a profession's reputation. The Globe and Mail. Nov 1, 2018]
Naturopathy legitimization effort criticized. David Gorski, MD, PhD has critiqued the recent Special Focus Issue on Naturopathy published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. [Gorski D. Naturopaths try (and fail yet again) to argue that they are science-based. Science-Based Medicine. Mar 11, 2019] Gorski's article spotlights a literature review by two naturopathic faculty members at Southern Cross University (Australia). The reports they analyzed were mostly favorable, but Gorski notes that none of the studies were well designed. Gorski also noted that, "naturopathy can tart itself up with science all it likes, but as long as it continues to embrace vitalism, homeopathy, and all manner of quackery, it will never be science-based."
Correction notice. Last week's Consumer Health Digest announced that a 10th edition of the college textbook Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions was available at no cost to Kindle Unlimited readers or for purchase as a Kindle edition for $9.99. The announcement should have said that it was the 9th (2012) edition. The book, authored by a team headed by Dr. Stephen Barrett, provides a panoramic view of the U.S. health marketplace and tells how to distinguish valid health claims from those that are misleading or fraudulent. Although some statistics in the book are outdated, the basic information and recommended consumer strategies remain relevant today. A Kindle device is not needed to read the book. Free reader apps are downloadable for iOS, Android, Mac and PC. Chirobase has published an updated version of the chiropractic chapter, which provides a detailed analysis of chiropractic's history and shortcomings.
This page was posted on March 18, 2019