Consumer Health Digest #20-44

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 8, 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.

Health ads on "The Joe Rogan Experience" challenged. has found that ads for products on episodes of the popular podcast "The Joe Rogan Experience," include health claims that "may not score so well on the truth-o-meter." [TINA.ORG fact-checks Joe Rogan's ads., Oct 28, 2020] Examples include ads for:

Rogan recently signed a $100 million broadcasting deal to make his podcast a Spotify exclusive. In October, the podcast featured a lengthy interview with bogus conspiracy promoter Alex Jones, whom Spotify and other major tech programs have banned for producing "hate content." Rogan attempted to fact-check Jones's anti-vaccine claims but also told Jones: "You've been correct about a lot of shit." [Joe Rogan hosts Alex Jones on Spotify podcast despite ban. The Guardian, Oct 28, 2020]

Colloidal silver marketers banned from selling unapproved drugs. A United States district court judge has granted a motion for default judgment and permanent injunction against Atoka, Oklahoma-based Xephyr LLC dba N-Ergetics, Derrill Jinks Fussell, and Linda Sue Fussell for violating federal law by distributing their colloidal silver products to prevent or treat COVID-19 and other diseases. The defendants are permanently prohibited from selling or distributing unapproved new drugs or misbranded drugs with claims that the products can cure, mitigate, treat, or prevent diseases in people. The FDA had warned the defendants in a March 6th letter to stop selling products for the mitigation, prevention, treatment, diagnosis, or cure of COVID-19. But according to the complaint for preliminary and permanent judgment filed by U.S. attorneys, defendants' website still had violative claims on April 22. [Schultz H. Judge closes case of colloidal silver marketer that made COVID-19 claims., Nov 4, 2020]

Susceptibility to COVID-19-related misinformation investigated. As part of a series of large-scale international survey studies about COVID-19, susceptibility to COVID-19-related misinformation was studied in 6,000 research participants in samples taken from Ireland, the USA, Spain, Mexico, and the UK. [Roozenbeek J. and others. Susceptibility to misinformation about COVID-19 around the world. Royal Society Open Science, Oct 14, 2020] The majority of people in the surveyed countries did not find misinformation, such as the coronavirus being bioengineered in Wuhan and 5G networks increase risk of developing COVID-19, to be credible. Those who did tended to be more likely to be exposed to information on social media about the virus but less likely to:

CFI supports bill supporting minors' right to consent to be vaccinated. The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is urging District of Columbia lawmakers to pass the Minor Consent for Vaccinations Amendment Act of 2019, a bill that will allow minors of eleven years and older to be vaccinated without their parents' approval. [Let kids of anti-vaxx parents consent to vaccinations, CFI tells D.C. council. Center for Inquiry press release, Oct 29, 2020] In a letter to the D.C. City Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser, CFI notes that:

Refunds sent to purchasers of deceptively advertised Quell. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that it is sending 70,142 checks and PayPal payments totaling $3,864,824 to consumers nationwide who bought Quell, a wearable device claimed to treat chronic pain throughout the body when placed below the knee. [FTC refunds almost $3.9 million to purchasers of deceptively advertised Quell wearable pain-relief device. FTC press release, Sept 8, 2020] Massachusetts-based NeuroMetrix, Inc. and its CEO, Shai Gozani, touted Quell—a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation device—as "clinically proven" and "FDA cleared" for widespread chronic pain relief, but the FTC charged that the marketers lacked scientific evidence to support chronic pain-relief claims, and their claims about clinical proof and the scope of FDA clearance for this use were false. Under an order settling the FTC's charges, NeuroMetrix, Inc. and its CEO agreed to to stop making such claims and to pay $4 million to the Commission for refunds.

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This page was posted on November 8, 2020.