Quackery and mumbo-jumbo pseudo-science?

This is an invited article by a guest author who points out a discrepancy between the 'talk' and the 'walk' so often demonstrated by dedicated sellers of complementary medicines.

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TAC press release: Ubhejane is not registered

29 June 2010

Ubhejane is not registered
Department of Health’s Law Enforcement Unit must investigate Zeblon Gwala
MCC’s recission of the 2002 notice must be given immediate effect

Ubhejane is marketed by a charlatan named Zeblon Gwala as a cure for AIDS. On 22 June 2010 it was incorrectly reported in Business Report that Ubhejane was registered with the Medicines Control Council (MCC). Ubhejane has not been registered as a medicine in South Africa. There is no evidence that it is of any benefit to people with HIV.

The Department of Health has stated that Ubhejane is not registered as a medicine. The MCC has not yet publicly responded to the article.

The Law Enforcement Unit of the Department of Health must immediately investigate the assertion made by Mr Zeblon Gwala that Ubhejane has been registered.

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Letters: Simply Slim vs Prof. Roy Jobson

Lance Rothschild, the PR person for Simply Slim, submitted this letter for publication in the Mail&Guardian essentially objecting to Prof. Roy Jobson’s blog, Simply Slim ‘defies’ the MCC, on the Mail & Guardian’s Thought Leader blog. Below Rothschild’s contribution is Prof. Jobson’s rejoinder. The Mail&Guardian have however not published either of the letters in the three weeks since submission, so it is unlikely that they will be published in the M&G. I have taken the liberty of publishing them here, with thanks to Prof Jobson for passing them on to me.

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It’s Evidence Jim, But Not As We Know It!

This excellent piece, although a direct criticism of the philosophical argument by a specific individual in favour of the evidence for homeopathy, can be read more widely in the context of evidence for all “complementary” medicines. Brilliantly written, it puts in perspective a number of relevant concepts, e.g., cherry picking, publication bias, the holistic approach, and other arguments used to examine claims for various treatment modalities. It is a long read but very pertinent.

http://apgaylard.wordpress.com/2007/11/08/its-evidence-jim-but-not-as-we-know-it/

In the event the website above is inactive, the text is reproduced below.

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Stem cell charlatans

Posted 25 June 2010

Researchers try to protect patients from stem cell charlatans

The International Society for Stem Cell Research has launched a patient education website “to smoke out the charlatans” who prey upon desperately ill people and their families, said Irving Weissman. 

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Slender Gel (Hoodia Gel), again!

Hoodia Slender Gel made bizarre claims for their product, i.e., rubbing gel containing hoodia onto your body will diminish your appetite and therefore result in “massive weight-loss”. The complaint that there was no evidence for this and that not only were the claims invalid, but the name as well. The ASA agreed. The company, instead of admitting that there is NO evidence to support their claims, changed the name of the product to Slender Max. Again the complaint was made that the name of the product was misleading for no proof existed etc, etc. The company changed their name to Hoodia Gel. An allegation of breach of ASA regulations was made. The ASA agreed, a breach of the previous ruling indeed had occurred.

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Omega-3 lesson: Not so much brain boost as fishy research

One tiny brain-imaging study of fatty acids has been used to endorse fish oil as education’s magic pill. Oddly enough, someone has now finally conducted a proper trial of fish oil pills, in mainstream children, to see if they work: a well-conducted, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, in 450 children aged 8–10 years from a mainstream school population. It was published in full this year – and the researchers found no improvement.

Dr Ben Goldacre has written in his column in the Guardian on the evidence for the claims for Omega 3.

more….

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South African Pharmacy Council “dismisses complaint against” [absolves] substantiators

Posted 01 June 2010

In brief:

Complaint: Beverley Summers PhD erroneously substantiated Homemark products Peel Away the Pounds and Slim Coffee to the detriment of consumers.

Result: Complaint dismissed as the SAPC (a science-based statutory council) did not want to override any decision of the ASA (an industry-based, non-scientific, non-statutory “authority”). The SAPC erroneously refers to the Final Appeal Committee of the ASA as an “independent judicial tribunal” — possibly on the basis that Judge Mervyn King convenes the Final Appeal Committee.

Unintended consequences: the SAPC decision creates a precedent which allows pharmacists to substantiate claims made for unregistered and unregulated products where there is insufficient evidence for the claims to be made. The SAPC decision therefore places consumers at risk of harm, financially and possibly even healthwise.

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Complaint: Pharmacy Council re: Dr Beverley Summers

Posted 1 June 2010

The following formal complaint was laid with the South African Pharmacy Council against the ongoing actions of the pharmacist, Dr Beverley Summers for her continuing substantiation of products with no valid scientific proof of benefit, and at least two having been banned in the USA (and regarded as scams)

[note note_color=”#f9fca8″]Update: The outcome of the complaint below, laid with the SAPC against Dr Beverley Summers, was that the SAPC did not find against her [read outcome]; because they did not consider the case at all, choosing instead to allow the ASA’s ruling to stand – along with her untruthful substantiations of these spurious weight-loss products, denounced as scams by the USA Federal Trade Commission.[/note]

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