Consumer Health Digest #06-36
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
September 5, 2007
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. 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.
N.C. "Lyme specialist" disciplined. The North Carolina Medical Board has concluded that Joseph G. Jemsek, M.D. "departed from acceptable and prevailing standards of practice" in diagnosing and treating Lyme disease. In April 2006, the board charged him with unprofessional conduct that involved ten patients. The notice of charges alleged:
- For each of the patients, there was no historical, physical, serological or other laboratory evidence to support his diagnosis of Lyme disease.
- For each of these patients, in the absence of any research or clinical evidence of efficacy, and in the face of increased risk of infection from indwelling catheter, Jemsek prescribed intravenous antibiotics for several months.
- The patients were not adequately informed that his method of diagnosing Lyme disease is not based on objective historical, physical, serological or other laboratory evidence and departs from recognized standards of diagnosing Lyme disease.
- The patients were not adequately informed that long-term administration of intravenous antibiotics is a departure from recognized standards of treating Lyme disease. (Standard treatment is no longer than 4 weeks.)
In August, the board issued a 1-year "suspension with stay" that allows Jemsek to continue practicing medicine if he complies with four stipulations:
- Jemsek shall develop an informed consent form approved by the North Carolina Board President.
- If a patient’s diagnosis is not supported by current Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) criteria, the patient must have a consultation or second opinion by a North Carolina-licensed infectious disease physician approved by the Board President before treatment.
- Any treatment of Lyme Disease either by oral or intravenous antibiotics for greater than two months total time must be included in a formal research protocol with institutional review board (“IRB”) supervision approved by the Board President.
- Any complications of treatment must be addressed by immediately.
The Jemsek Clinic, located in Hunterville, North Carolina, is said to be the largest private HIV/AIDS clinic in the Carolinas.
Online pharmacies accused of selling counterfeit drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising consumers not to purchase or use prescription drugs from websites that have orders filled by Mediplan Prescription Plus Pharmacy or Mediplan Global Health in Manitoba, Canada. The sites include: RxNorth.com; Canadiandrugstore.com, Rxbyfax.com, Northcountryrx.com, Canada-pharmacy.com, My-canada-pharmacy.com, NLRX.com, Canampharmacy.com, Canada-Meds-For-Less.net, and Canadian-safe.com. Preliminary laboratory results to date have found counterfeits of Lipitor, Diovan, Actonel, Nexium, Hyzaar, Ezetrol (known as Zetia in the United States), Crestor, Celebrex, Arimidex, and Propecia. [FDA warns consumers not to buy or use prescription drugs from various Canadian Websites that apparently sell counterfeit products. FDA news release, Aug 30, 2006]
MLM company hit by seizure. On September 5, 2006, at the FDA's request, U.S. Marshals seized quantities of Ellagimax capsules, Coral Max capsules, Coral Max without Iron capsules, and Advanced Arthritis Support capsules distributed by Advantage Nutraceuticals L.L.C. of Fort Walton Beach, Florida, valued at approximately $55,000. Although labeled as "dietary supplements," the product were promoted through the Internet and elsewhere with illegal claims of effectiveness in preventing and/or treating against cancer, epilepsy, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other diseases [FDA asks U.S. Marshals to seize dietary supplements: Products being promoted with drug claims. FDA news release, Sept. 6, 2006] The FDA issued a warning letter in March 2005.
"Health freedom" crusader dies at age 70. Maureen Kennedy Salaman, who served for more than 20 years as president of the National Health Federation, reportedly died quietly in her sleep on August 17. Through books, lectures, broadcasts, and political activities, she promoted a version of "health freedom" in which sellers would be free to sell whatever they please as long as someone wants it. Quackwatch has posted an article about her activities and credentials.
This page was revised on September 7, 2006.