Consumer Health Digest #19-30
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 28, 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.
Chiropractor suspended and fined for misleading ads. The Kansas Board of Healing Arts has issued a final order suspending the chiropractic license of Michael D. Riley for 90 days and fining him $7,500 for: (a) soliciting professional patronage through the use of fraudulent or false advertisements, (b) making "a false or misleading statement regarding his skill or the efficacy or value of the treatment or remedy" he prescribed, and (c) "conduct that is likely to deceive, defraud, or harm the public." [Samples C. Former Emporia chiropractor suspended, fined for misleading ads. KVOE AM 1400, July 17, 2019] This is the fourth time that Riley has been disciplined.
- In 2006, he signed a consent order under which he was fined $250 for implying in an ad, which did not reveal his identity or profession, that back pain could be stopped without surgery.
- In 2014, he was fined $2,000 after the board concluded that he had "solicited patronage through the use of fraudulent or false advertisements" that his "Lite Cure Laser" could enable people to "live pain free."
- In 2017, he was charged with failing to properly identify himself as a chiropractor in advertisements. The resultant consent order included a $5,000 fine.
Riley owns and operates Renuva Health, LLC, d/b/a Renuva Back & Pain Centers in Overland Park, Kansas and three other locations. The Renuva Web site advertises that Riley's "CoreCare treatment protocol" as a "five-phase scientific approach that applies FDA-cleared technologies and therapies in a way that is methodical and proven to be effective" and has "successfully relieved chronic pain for people with arthritis; degenerative disc disease; facet syndrome; failed back syndrome; headaches & migraines; herniated or bulging disc; hip pain; knee pain; neck pain; neuropathy; sciatica & leg pain; spinal stenosis; and upper & lower back pain. The specific CoreCare therapies are not described on the site, and no evidence is provided to back up the advertising claim that that they work together to produce a greater and longer lasting effect.
Ketogenic diet hype criticized. A ketogenic diet calls for consuming fat as the main source of calories, avoiding excess protein, and near complete avoidance of carbohydrates in order to break down stored body fat to release ketones into the bloodstream. The ketones are used instead of blood sugar as a source of energy. In a JAMA viewpoint article, three physicians warn that although many people could benefit from reducing their intake of simple carbohydrates (such as refined sugar), avoiding the complex carbohydrates found in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods is likely to be detrimental. The JAMA article concludes:
Although the ketogenic diet has garnered much attention for the dietary treatment of chronic diseases such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, the evidence supporting its use is currently limited and the diet's potential risks are real. Physicians and patients should continue to judiciously appraise the benefits and risks of the ketogenic diet in accordance with the evidence, not the hype. [Joshi S and others. The ketogenic diet for obesity and diabetes—enthusiasm outpaces evidence. JAMA Internal Medicine, July 15, 2019]
Steven Novella, M.D. has noted that while the medical consensus suggests ketogenic diet can be useful treatment of epilepsy and other neurological disorders, the evidence is surprisingly thin. [Novella S. Keto diet for neurological disorders. Science-Based Medicine. Feb 20, 2019]
Responses to health misinformation in mass media recommended. Fifteen scholars at institutions in Canada have reviewed how health misinformation is spread through mass media and have recommended policy and communication correctives. [Caulfield T. and others. Health misinformation and the power of narrative messaging in the public sphere. Canadian Journal of Bioethics 2:52-60, 2019] They describe problems of: (a) misleading narratives spread through social media; (b) implicit hype of emerging therapies by the popular press, pseudoscience embraced by journalists; (c) use of "scienceploitation" language of quantum physics, stem cells, genetics, and microbiome research for hype; and (d) misleading narratives in health-related crowdfunding. They recommend four "legal and policy tools" followed by seven "social tools" in response:
- Better enforcement of existing truth in advertising law, and/or improvements thereto
- Regulatory policy change and enforcement for health professionals spreading misinformation
- Policy outlining rules for and encouraging expert media engagement and the use of narrative
- Advocacy by nonprofit organizations (e.g., litigation against Goop)
- Advocacy by individuals (official complaints, social media activism)
- Expert engagement in the popular press and on social media to counter misinformation
- Encouragement of social media companies to combat misinformation by modifying platforms
- Opinion editorials
- Use of creative communication strategies that utilize narratives, art, video, etc.
- Support and adoption of further research on effective communication strategies
Complaint filed to stop distribution of adulterated dietary supplements. The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a complaint against Confidence USA, Inc. of Port Washington, New York; company president Helen Chian, and company manager Jim Chao to prevent them from marketing dietary supplements without following good manufacturing practices. [Department of Justice files complaint against New York company to stop distribution of adulterated dietary supplements. DOJ Office of Public Affairs release. May 23, 2019] The complaint alleges that defendants:
- make and distribute more than 50 dietary supplements under brand names that include Confidence USA, American Best, USA Natural, and The Herbal Store
- failed to verify the identity of each dietary ingredient used and that their products met specifications for purity, strength, composition, and contamination limits
- repeatedly failed to correct violations found in many FDA inspections
The Confidence USA Web site describes the compoany as "a leader in nutraceutical research and development for many years" and says it was "one of the first in the world to combine Chinese medicine and Western medicine to formulate highly effective nutritional supplements." In 2012, U.S. marshals seized allegedly adulterated Confidence USA products.
This page was posted on July 28, 2019