Consumer Health Digest #14-13
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 13, 2014
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.
Australian agency blasts homeopathy. Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has published a 301-page overview of research on the effectiveness of homeopathy that concludes:
- The quality and comprehensiveness of the systematic reviews included in this Overview Report were limited by the inclusion of many poorly designed, conducted and reported primary studies. Importantly, most of the primary studies were small in size and likely to be insufficiently powered to detect a statistically significant outcome.
- The available evidence is not compelling and fails to demonstrate that homeopathy is an effective treatment for any of the reported clinical conditions in humans.
[Effectiveness of Homeopathy for Clinical Conditions: Overview Report, Oct 2013] Based on this analysis, the agency has drafted a warning statement and called for public comment.
Dental chain agrees to Medicare/Medicaid exclusion. The U.S. Office of the Inspector General and CSHM, LLC, have entered an agreement under which the company is barred for five years from participating in any Federal health care programs as of September 30, 2014. CSHM, which operates 70 Small Smiles dental clinics, is the corporate successor to FORBA Holdings, which in 2010 agreed to pay $24 million to settle False Claim Act charges that its clinics had performed and billed for huge amounts of unnecessary services. The current agreement settles charges that CSHM failed to honor the corporate integrity agreement that it signed in 2010 in the wake of the FORBA scandal.
White paper calls for greater MLM regulation. Attorney Douglas M. Brooks and two other experts on multilevel marketing (MLM) and pyramid schemes have delivered a 37-page white paper to Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) concerning the need for more effective regulation of the MLM industry. [Brooks DM and others. The pyramid scheme industry: Examining some legal and economic aspects of multi-level marketing. March 13, 2014] Based on data released by Herbalife, Amway, and Nu Skin, the report concludes:
- Approximately 99% who purchase distributorships with the hope of earning money wind up losing money, and most eventually drop out.
- Approximately 54% of all commissions paid by these firms go to the top 1% of distributors, with that top 1% earning an average of about $128,000.
- Current FTC policy concerning MLM, which is based primarily on a 1979 case involving Amway, is a failure.
Earlier this year, Markey asked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate Herbalife, one of the largest MLM firms. The FTC was also petitioned last year by an international coalition of consumer advocates. Last month, Herbalife announced that the FTC is investigating it. The New York State Attorney General is also investigating.
This page was posted on April 16, 2014.