Consumer Health Digest #19-33
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 18, 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.
CFI leads opposition to chiropractic Medicare coverage bill. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) has provided a webform to enable Americans to conveniently send messages to their U.S. senators and representatives objecting to the Chiropractic Medicare Coverage Modernization Act (H.R. 3654), which was introduced on July 9th by Representatives Brian Higgins (D-NY) and Tom Reed (R-NY). CFI says enactment of the bill "would force Medicare to cover all services that the chiropractic industry claims to be within its pseudoscientific repertoire and, ludicrously, define chiropractors as 'physicians' in the Medicare program." In her detailed analysis, Jann Bellamy wrote:
Given their sweeping claims of competence and aggressive push for an ever-expanding scope of practice, one thing is certain: Despite giving lip service to pain treatment and alternatives to opioids, if H.R. 3654 passes, chiropractors are going to go full bore in forcing CMS to cover much more than musculoskeletal problems.
[Bellamy J. The DC wants to play PCP on your dime: H.R. 3654 forces Medicare to cover full chiropractic scope of practice. Science-Based Medicine, Aug 15, 2019] Dr. Stephen Barrett regards Bellamy's article as a masterpiece and recommends that it be read by everyone concerned about the quality of Americas health-care system.
Chiropractic company's aggressive marketing scrutinized. The NBC4 I-Team has exposed the use of testimonials, scare tactics, and promotional hype by Optimal Health/Straw Chiropractic run by Philip Straw, D.C., which operated clinics in southern California. [Johnson C. Roher C. Some patients say SoCal chiropractic business has drained their bank accounts and their hope. NBC Los Angeles, Aug 14, 2019] The report notes:
- A consumer signed up for a treatment plan offered by the company at a cost of more than $10,000 after attending one of the company's locally advertised free dinner seminars for people with neuropathy.
- The treatment plan she was given included 12 in-office visits and products for home use including a foot massager, a light therapy pad, and cream. None of it helped.
- The company announced in December 2018 that it was closing its doors. However, Straw continues to market his treatments on television and the company's 800 number now connects to "Superior Health Centers."
- Superior Health Centers appears to use printed marketing materials and presentation slides identical to those of Optimal Health/Straw Chiropractic.
- An I-Team producer who attended a Superior Health Centers dinner seminar went for a consultation at which she was diagnosed with neuropathy following a 20-minute exam that included pricks to her hand and a reflex test and was told that four weeks of treatment would cost $14,000.
- The producer said her own doctor told her she does not have neuropathy.
In 2013, the Chiropractic Board of California cited Straw and fined him $500 for misleading advertising of his "Straw Protocol" for nerve pain. Dr. William London severely criticized Straw in 2015. No publicly available information indicates whether or not the board is concerned about Shaw's current activities.
HPV vaccination recommendations updated. Vaccination against human papilloma virus (HPV) can prevent new HPV infections and HPV-associated diseases, including some cancers. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) continues to recommend vaccination against HPV at age 11 or 12 years and now recommends catch-up vaccinations for all persons through age 26 years who are not adequately vaccinated. For some adults aged 27 through 45 years who are not adequately vaccinated, shared clinical decision-making regarding HPV vaccination is now recommended. As noted by ACIP:
Evidence suggests that although HPV vaccination is safe for adults aged 27 through 45 years, population benefit would be minimal; nevertheless, some adults who are not adequately vaccinated might be at risk for new HPV infection and might benefit from vaccination in this age range.
[Meites E. and others. Human papillomavirus vaccination for adults: updated recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices. MMWR 68:698-702, 2019]
FDA warns consumers again about Miracle Mineral Solution. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning consumers not to purchase or drink a product known as Master or Miracle Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Supplement, MMS, Chlorine Dioxide (CD) Protocol, Water Purification Solution (WPS), and other similar products. [FDA warns consumers about the dangerous and potentially life threating side effects of Miracle Mineral Solution. FDA news release, Aug 12, 2019] Such products are promoted via social media for treatment of autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and flu, among other conditions. The FDA first warned consumers about MMS in 2010. The agency says it recently received new reports of people experiencing severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, and life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration and acute liver failure after drinking these products. The FDA has not approved MMS for any use and is not aware of any scientific evidence supporting the safety or effectiveness of MMS products, despite claims that the solution is an antimicrobial, antiviral, and antibacterial.
Distributor Web sites describe MMS as a liquid that is 28% sodium chlorite in distilled water. Product directions tell consumers to mix the sodium chlorite solution with citric acid—such as lemon or lime juice—or another acid before drinking. In many instances, the sodium chlorite is sold with a citric acid "activator." When the acid is added, the mixture becomes chlorine dioxide, a powerful bleaching agent. FDA officials urge anyone who has had a negative reaction to consult a health care professional as soon as possible and report negative side effects to FDA's MedWatch program at 800-FDA-1088 or online at www.fda.gov/medwatch/report.htm.
Steven Novella, M.D. commented:
How do we explain the persistence of not just useless snake oil, but seriously harmful snake oil? There is a clue, I think, in the origins of MMS—Jim Humble and his Genesis II Church of Health and Healing. This is an excellent example of the mixing of religion with alternative medicine. I and others here have long argued that this is a prominent feature of CAM, often overlooked by those not sufficiently familiar with it as a phenomenon. CAM, in fact, is far closer to religion than it is to science, although there is a lot of variability as it is a broad and eclectic category.
[Novella S. FDA warns about Miracle Mineral Solution. Science-Based Medicine, Aug 14, 2019]
This page was posted on August 18, 2019.