Consumer Health Digest #07-14
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 3, 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.
Kidney stone product marketer defies FDA warning. An FDA warning to the primary marketer of Uriflow appears to have been ignored. In November 2006, the agency warned Bioneutrix Healthcare to stop claiming that their proprietary herbal mixture can prevent, dissolve, and "painlessly flush out" kidney stones and that there have been "over 80,000 successful cases." However, the challenged claims still appear online. The company also appears to be using Better Business Bureau and TRUSTe logos without authorization and may be touting an endorsement from a nonexistent urologist. [Barrett S. Dubious claims for Uriflow. Quackwatch, April 4, 2007]
USANA embroiled in controversy. USANA Health Sciences, Inc. and three of its top officers are facing class-action lawsuits by shareholders who allege:
- Its business model was unsustainable because it required the constant recruitment of new Associates due to a high level of attrition within the its sales force.
- Its multi-level marketing model operated as a pyramid scheme.
- The majority of its distributors ("Associates") did not actually sell to consumers, but rather to other Company Associates.
- Over 74% of its Associates were failing within the first year of joining the Company.
- Over 87% of its Associates were losing money instead of receiving compensation for their sales efforts.
- It lacked adequate internal and financial controls.
- As a result of these things, certain statements that USANA made about its future business prospects lacked a reasonable basis.
In March, USANA reported that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission had begun an informal inquiry. The investigation appears to have been generated by a lengthy report issued by the Fraud Discovery Institute. USANA responded to that report by suing its author for libel. For additional information, see:
- Winstein KJ. USANA sales plan draws fire from felon turned gumshoe. Wall Street Journal, March 15, 2007
- Fraud Discovery Institute Report on USANA
- Kapur v. USANA Health Sciences, Inc.
- Senter v. USANA Health Sciences, Inc.
- USANA v. Barry Minkow and Fraud Defense Institute
Adverse events associated with chiropractic care of children. A systematic review has identified 34 cases in which spinal manipulation in children was associated with adverse events. [Vohra S. Adverse events associated with pediatric spinal manipulation: A systematic review. Pediatrics 119(1) January 2007, pp. e275-e283] Fourteen of the cases involved "direct" events in which the treatment was followed by death, serious injury, symptoms requiring medical attention, or soreness. The rest involved "indirect" events in which appropriate diagnosis was delayed and/or inappropriate manipulation was done for serious medical conditions such as meningitis. The reviewers commented that despite the fact that spinal manipulation is widely used on children, pediatric safety data are virtually nonexistent. This type of review cannot determine how often adverse events occur. That would require a prospective study with active surveillance. The article did not consider harmful aspects of chiropractic care that are far more common than the reported events. These include (a) decreased use of immunization due to misinformation given to parents, (b) psychologic harm related to unnecessary treatment, (c) psychologic harm caused by exposure to false chiropractic beliefs about "subluxations," and (d) financial harm due to unnecessary treatment.
This page was posted on April 5, 2007.