Consumer Health Digest #20-12

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 29, 2020


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.


Skeptical COVID-19 resource page launched. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) has launched its Coronavirus Resource Center to counter misinformation about COVID-19. The information includes links to: (a) recent relevant CFI publications, (b) other articles exposing false and misleading claims, and (c) recommended consumer information sources. Since Professor William M. London is curating coronavirus content for the resource center, Consumer Health Digest will focus on other issues.


Academic "integrative medicine" centers blasted. Donald M. Marcus, M.D. of Baylor College of Medicine, has criticized the establishment of "integrative medical centers" in more than 70 medical and nursing schools during the last 20 years. [Marcus DM. Alternative therapies in academic medical centers compromise evidence-based patient care. Journal of Clinical Investigation. March 20, 2020 (Epub ahead of print)] Noting that evidence of efficacy and safety of alternative therapies is lacking, Dr, Marcus concludes:


Pain relief device advertisers settle complaint. Under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Massachusetts-based NeuroMetrix, Inc. and its CEO, Shai Gozani, who marketed a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device called Quell, have agreed to pay at least $4 million and stop making deceptive claims that the device (a) treats pain throughout the body when placed below the knee or (b) is clinically proven and cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to do so. [Marketers of pain relief device settle FTC false advertising complaint. FTC press release. March 4, 2020]


FDA bans dubious devices for reducing self-injurious behavior. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published a final rule to ban electrical stimulation devices (ESDs) used for self-injurious or aggressive behavior because they present an unreasonable and substantial risk of illness or injury that cannot be corrected or eliminated through new or updated device labeling. The FDA believes that state-of-the-art behavioral treatments, such as positive behavioral support, and medications can enable health care providers to find alternative approaches for curbing self-injurious or aggressive behaviors in their patients. [FDA takes rare step to ban electrical stimulation devices for self-injurious or aggressive behavior. FDA news release. March 4, 2020] The new rule applies only to ESDs used for self-injurious or aggressive behavior. It does not apply to (a) aversive conditioning devices used for other purposes, such smoking cessation, and (b) other FDA-cleared or approved devices or technologies, such as cranial electrotherapy stimulators or transcranial magnetic stimulation, both of which have been found to have a reasonable assurance of safety and effectiveness for different purposes.


Questionable treatments for internalizing issues of children debunked. Skeptical Inquirer magazine has published the second of a three-article series that shares sidebars from the book Pseudoscience in Child and Adolescent Psychotherapy edited by Stephen Hupp (Cambridge University Press, 2019). [Dubious claims in psychotherapy for youth, part II: internalizing issues. Skeptical Inquirer. 44(2):50-53] This installment criticizes:


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This page was revised on March 29, 2020.