Consumer Health Digest #20-16

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 26, 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.

Bioresonance hair testing debunked. Bioresonance hair testing uses a device based on the pseudoscience of radionics to analyze hair samples mailed in by customers for signs of blockages or distortions in "energy fields." Tests may be sent outside the U.S for analysis since the Food and Drug Administration banned in a 2009 import alert "all radionic instruments intended for use in diagnosis of internal diseases" coming from Bruce Copen Laboratories or the Sussex College of Technology. At least three companies with U.S. addresses are marketing such tests:

It is well established that the composition of body hair—when measured in a standard chemical laboratory—does not reflect the body's nutritional status or reveal "intolerances." [Barrett S. Why bioresonance hair testing is preposterous. Quackwatch. April 22, 2020] Dr. Barrett has invited feedback from people who have undergone bioresonance hair testing and would like to share their or discuss how to seek a refund.

More sellers warned about illegal CBD marketing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued warning letters to two more companies for illegally selling unapproved products containing cannabidiol (CBD) in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act):

[FDA warns companies illegally selling CBD products to treat medical conditions, opioid addiction. FDA news release. April 23, 2020]

Isoprex marketer barred from making unproven claims. Renaissance Health Publishing, LLC and its owner James DiGeorgia have agreed to a settlement that bars them from continuing to make unproven claims for the company's Isoprex supplement, which was promoted as a miracle cure for pain and joint inflammation. [FTC halts bogus claims about "miracle" supplement for older adults. FTC press release. April 16, 2020] The proposed court order settling the FTC complaint would: (a) prohibit the defendants from misrepresenting the results of scientific tests, studies, or research, and (b) impose a judgment of $3.93 million, which will be partially suspended due to inability to pay, after the defendants pay $100,000. The FTC may use those funds to pay refunds to consumers harmed by the allegedly misleading advertising. According to the FTC's complaint, the defendants have:

Promoter of bleach nostrum wrote to Trump before his bleach blunder. Mark Grennon, the self-styled "archbishop" of Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, the largest producer and distributor of chlorine dioxide bleach as a "miracle cure" has announced that he wrote to President Trump last week to advise him that the bleach product "Miracle Mineral Solution" (MMS) is "a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body" and "can rid the body of Covid-19". A few days later, Trump suggested at a press conference the possibility of using disinfectant as a COVID-19 treatment. Grennon also said that 30 of his supporters also wrote to Trump. The Guardian contacted the White House, to ask whether Gannon's letter had influenced Trump's comments, but had not yet received a response. [Pilkington E. Revealed: leader of group peddling bleach as a coronavirus 'cure' wrote to Trump this week. The Guardian. April 24, 2020] Meanhile, leading manufacturers of cleaning products have responded to Trump's advice by warning people not to drink or try to inject themselves with disinfectants. [Bienkov A. Bleach manufacturers have warned people not to inject themselves with disinfectant after Trump falsely suggested it might cure the coronavirus. Business Insider. April 25, 2020] Meanwhile, a federal court has ordered the "Church" and four individuals to stop distributing MMS as a COVID-19 treatment. [Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: federal judge enters temporary injunction against Genesis II Church of Health and Healing, preventing sale of chlorine dioxide products equivalent to industrial bleach to treat COVID-19. FDA news release. April 17, 2020]

Vyera sued for skyrocketing price of toxoplasmosis drug. The Federal Trade Commission, along with with the Attorneys General of New York, California, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina, have filed a complaint for injunctive and equitable relief against Vyera Pharmaceuticals (previously known as Turing Pharmaceuticals) and two of its former CEOs. The defendants allegedly stifled competition to protect the exorbitant, monopolistic price of the drug Daraprim (pyrimethamine), the only FDA-approved drug for treatment of the serious and often life-threatening parasitic disease toxoplasmosis. The drug had been cheap and accessible for decades, but in August 2015, Vyera allegedly purchased the drug, increased its price-per-pill from $17.50 to $750, altered its distribution, and engaged in other conduct to delay and impede generic competition. [Attorney General Josh Stein takes legal action against Martin Shkreli and Vyera Pharmaceuticals. NCDOJ news release. April 14, 2020]

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This page was posted on April 26, 2020.