Consumer Health Digest #20-36

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 13, 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.

Dismissal of Walmart homeopathy lawsuit appealed. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) has sent an opening brief to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, arguing that the Superior Court of the District of Columbia erred in dismissing CFI's 2019 lawsuit against Walmart over the mega-retailer's deceptive sale and marketing of homeopathic products. The Superior Court ruled that CFI lacked standing and did not state a claim. However, CFI argues: (a) it has standing as a public interest organization with a branch in the District of Columbia, and (b) Walmart's in-store signage, product placement, and internet marketing, which combine homeopathic products with science-based medicines, are sufficient to state a cause of action under several subsections of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act that prohibit deceptive practices. [CFI to Court of Appeals: protect consumers from Walmart's fake medicine deception. CFI press release, Sept 11, 2020]

Hangover product sellers warned. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered seven companies to stop illegally selling products with claims to cure, treat, mitigate, or prevent hangovers that can occur after alcohol intoxication:

Under the federal law, based on the disease-related claims for the products, they are considered drugs even if labeled as dietary supplements. Drug products cannot be marketed without FDA approval. [FDA sends warning letters to seven companies illegally selling hangover products. FDA CFSAN Constituent Update, July 29, 2020] Four of the companies included N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) as an ingredient in their products. The FDA does not consider NAC to be a legal dietary supplement ingredient. It was approved as a drug product for thinning mucus in 1963 and there is no evidence it was marketed as a food or supplement prior to that date. [Bellamy J. FDA warns companies selling illegal hangover remedies. Science-Based Medicine, Sept 10, 2020]

Chiropractic regulatory board member accused of posting misleading ads. A member of the public has complained to the British Columbia Health Minister and Premier about questionable claims posted to the Facebook page of chiropractor Linda Gordon, who is a board member of the College of Chiropractors of British Columbia. The posts included scientifically unsupported claims forbidden by the College that chiropractic adjustments can treat ear infections and ADHD and "boost the effectiveness of your immune system" against colds and the flu. The clinic's Facebook page was later disabled. The College has told CBC News that is taking action. [Lindsay B. Investigation launched over misleading claims from board member at B.C. chiropractors' college. CBC News, Sept 9, 2020] The complaint against Gordon is part of a two-year campaign in which consumer advocates and some members of the British Columbia Chiropractors Association have been pressing the College, which regulates chiropractors, to stop misleading claims made by many of its members. Several chiropractors, including former board members, have been reprimanded and fined for spreading anti-vaccination information, and many more have been under investigation. [Lindsay B. Ministry considered options for handling 'dysfunctional' chiropractors college after CBC report, FOI shows. CBC News, March 18, 2019]

No evidence that blocking blue light provides a health benefit. A new industry blames blue light emitted from electronic devices for a variety of health problems and promotes special glasses to protect wearers from blue light. The major source of blue light exposure is the sun. The relevant science and lack of evidence to support health claims made for wearing glasses that block blue light are discussed in two recent articles:

Both articles advise reducing screen time to deal with eye strain.

Authenticity of many coronavirus-related domain names doubted. The way domain names are assigned in many countries can make it difficult to distinguish government websites from commercial or malicious websites. Based on their analysis of 303 websites with coronavirus-related domain names from 5 continents and 17 subregions, researchers have reported:

[Tombs N. Fournier-Tombs E. Ambiguity in authenticity of top-level Coronavirus-related domains. Harvard Kennedy School Misinformation Review, Aug 2020]

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This page was posted on September 13, 2020.