FTC enforcement action against Prevagen reinstated

Posted 25 September 2019

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second District has ruled that the FTC and New York Attorney General can continue their suit against the promoters of the widely advertised “memory supplement” Prevagen. In January 2017, the agencies charged the marketers with making false and unsubstantiated claims that the product improves memory, provides cognitive benefits, and is “clinically shown” to work.
Reference: FTC, New York State charge the marketers of Prevagen with making deceptive memory, cognitive Improvement claims: Widely advertised supplement touted to improve memory in 90 days. FTC news release, Jan 9, 2017

In September 2017, a U.S. District Court judge dismissed the complaint after ruling that it was too speculative. However, in February 2019, the appellate court vacated the dismissal and returned it to the lower court for further consideration. The key issue in the case is whether or not the non-peer-reviewed study Read the rest

NYT: 10 Medical Myths We Should Stop Believing. Doctors, Too.

Posted 25 September 2019

10 Medical Myths We Should Stop Believing. Doctors, Too.

Researchers identified nearly 400 common medical practices and theories that were contradicted by rigorous studies. Here are some of the most notable findings.

By Gina Kolata  – New York Times – July 1, 2019

You might assume that standard medical advice was supported by mounds of scientific research. But researchers recently discovered that nearly 400 routine practices were flatly contradicted by studies published in leading journals.

Of more than 3,000 studies published from 2003 through 2017 in JAMA and the Lancet, and from 2011 through 2017 in the New England Journal of Medicine, more than one of 10 amounted to a “medical reversal”: a conclusion opposite of what had been conventional wisdom among doctors.

“You come away with a sense of humility,” said Dr. Vinay Prasad of Oregon Health and Science University, who conceived of the study. Read the rest

SAHPRA warns the public about consuming illicit sexual enhancement drugs

Posted 23 September 2019

Warning – Illicit and dangerous erectile dysfunction medicines

Pretoria, 28 June 2019 – The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) warns consumers not to buy illicit and dangerous medicines containing sildenafil, a substance used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Medicines such as Viagra, Dynafll and Avigra are approved by SAHPRA and must be prescribed by a doctor.

Any person who wishes to acquire these products needs diagnosis, prescription, management and close monitoring by authorised medical professional/s. Viagra contains sildenafil, which is a substance listed in Schedule 4 of the Medicines Schedules, as treatment for erectile dysfunction. Substances listed in this schedule require registration with SAHPRA together with the licensing of the facility that either manufactures, distributes or sells these.

Most of the illegal products are imported into the country illegally. There are few manufacturing facilities in the country, like the one that was recently Read the rest

FDA warns consumers about the dangerous and potentially life threating side effects of Miracle Mineral Solution

Posted 23 September 2019

FDA August 12, 2019

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers not to purchase or drink a product sold online as a medical treatment due to a recent rise in reported health issues. Since 2010, the FDA has warned consumers about the dangers of Miracle or Master Mineral Solution, Miracle Mineral Supplement, MMS, Chlorine Dioxide (CD) Protocol, Water Purification Solution (WPS) and other similar products. Miracle Mineral Solution has not been approved by the FDA for any use, but these products continue to be promoted on social media as a remedy for treating autism, cancer, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and flu, among other conditions. However, the solution, when mixed, develops into a dangerous bleach which has caused serious and potentially life-threatening side effects.

“The FDA’s drug approval process ensures that patients receive safe and effective drug products. Miracle Mineral Solution and similar products are not FDA-approved, Read the rest

Do dietary supplements improve heart health?

Posted 20 September 2019

By Scott Gavura Science Based Medicine

The sale of dietary supplements is booming and continues to grow. Supplements are enormously popular with an estimated 75% of Americans using some form of supplement regularly. Supplements are widely believed (and advertised) to provide meaningful health benefits. As cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the US, it is not surprising that supplements purported to treat, mitigate, or prevent cardiovascular disease would be popular. It has been noted in many posts on this blog that the supplement industry is very lightly regulated, meaning that claims of effectiveness may not be backed by credible evidence. Additionally, safety concerns have been raised with some supplements, with the suspicion that in some cases, they may harm more than help. With this question in mind, Safi Khan and colleagues from West Virginia University and other organizations undertook a massive umbrella Read the rest

USN PhedraCut Lipo XT recalled due to high caffeine content

Posted 18 September 2019

From NutraIngredients

Fat-burner supplement recalled due to high caffeine content

By Will Chu

12-Sep-2019 – Last updated on 11-Sep-2019 at 16:57 GMT

Belgium’s Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) is recalling a popular fat-burning supplement after checks found the product’s caffeine content to be in excess of that labelled.

Bottles of the product, Phedra Cut Lipo XT Fat Burner (60 tablets) are to be taken off the shelves of the distributor, Charleroi -based sports equipment shop Intersport Gosselies.

“The company has decided in consultation with the FASFC to remove the following product from the sale and recall it from the consumer,”​ FASFC recall notice states.

“The company asks its customers not to consume the product and to return it to the point of sale where it will be reimbursed.”

The affected supplement, made by the UK’s Ultimate Sports Nutrition (USN), Read the rest

“Alternative medicine” symposium published

Posted 09 September 2019

The special, expanded September/October 2019 issue of Skeptical Inquirer magazine has as its theme “The Health Wars: Fighting Medical Pseudoscience” and includes these timely articles:

Full-text of the articles are available in the print issue and online, but a Skeptical Inquirer subscription is required for full-text online of all but the first two articles.

Source: Consumer Health Digest #19-36, September 8, 2019

Read the rest

Google will ban ads for unproven or experimental medical techniques

Posted 09 September 2019

Google is revising its healthcare and medicines policy to ban advertising for unproven or experimental medical techniques such as most stem cell therapy, cellular (non-stem) therapy, and gene therapy. The policy will prohibit ads selling treatments that: (a) have no established biomedical or scientific basis, or (b) are rooted in basic scientific findings and preliminary clinical experience, but currently have insufficient formal clinical testing to justify widespread clinical use.
Reference: A new policy on advertising for speculative and experimental medical treatments. Google, Sept 6, 2019

The ban reportedly will take effect in October.
Reference: Wan W. McGinley L. New Google policy bars ads for unproven stem cell therapies. Washington Post, Sept 6, 2019

MIT Technology Review has criticized Google for years of brazenly profiting from health-care scams, noting:

Ads from stem-cell clinics have been a fixture of Google’s search results for years, funneling desperate Read the rest

Chiropractor sentenced for allergy ALCAT testing scam

Posted 04 September 2019

In February 2019, the California Board of Medical Examiners accused Benjamin Darrow, D.C. of unprofessional conduct related to criminal charges that he had defrauded insurance companies. The charges centered around his billing for ALCAT tests for “intolerances” to foods and other environmental substances. ALCAT tests are not recognized as valid by the scientific community and are not covered by most insurance programs.

Reference: Barrett S. Chiropractor prosecuted for false billing for ALCAT testing. Chirobase, Aug 30, 2019

According to the accusation, Darrow managed to get paid by using false billing codes and pretending that the tests were done in his offices. In May 2019, Darrow pleaded “no contest” to the criminal charges and agreed to pay restitution plus investigative and court costs. In August 2019, he was sentenced to serve a year in jail, ordered to pay $877,000 in restitution, and serve six years Read the rest

Aromatherapy debunked

Posted 04 September 2019

Joe Schwarcz, Ph.D. who directs McGill University’s Office for Science & Society, has summarized the chemistry and marketing of essential oil products used for aromatherapy.

Reference: Schwarcz J. The right chemistry: the science and pseudoscience of essential oils. Montreal Gazette, Aug 23, 2019

He notes:

Sales of essential oils are dominated by multi-level marketing (MLM) companies that snare potential participants with promises of wealth through a commission system. Unfortunately, this often drives individuals to make outlandish claims about using the oils to treat cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, mononucleosis or arthritis. There seems to be an oil for any condition that potential customers have. The Food and Drug Administration in the United States has sent warning letters to the major MLM companies, resulting in more careful wording of claims, but there is no way to police what parties say in the privacy of a home, where Read the rest