Consumer Health Digest #08-22

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 27, 2008


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.


Professor charges that medically-related dishonesty is increasing. Herbert L. Fred, M.D., Professor of Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center, believes that professional and academic dishonesty is rampant in medical schools, postgraduate training, medical practice, medical research, and medical publications. The problems he catalogs include fraud, deceit, cheating, lying, shirking responsibility, abuse of authority, conflicts of interest, plagiarism, alteration of medical records, forgery, false representation, and knowingly helping others in dishonest acts. [Fred HL. Dishonesty in medicine revisited. Texas Heart Institute Journal. 35:6-15, 2008] The full text of the article is posted online.


Significant lead levels found in Herbalife products. Independent laboratory testing has found that several products marketed by Herbalife contain significant amounts of lead. The Fraud Discovery Institute (FDI), which obtained the tests, has asked the California Department of Health to investigate. The test results and related information are posted on the FDI Web site.


"Spiritual" dentist disciplined for "evil spirits" advice. The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has upheld and augmented a ruling that Paul Gardner, who now practices dentistry in Highton, Victoria, had engaged in serious unprofessional conduct. Dr Gardner came to the attention of the Dental Practices Board of Victoria following a complaint by a patient who had been medically diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. In 2007, the dental board concluded that he had inappropriately told her that she was possessed by evil spirits, should attend his church for spiritual healing, and would be able to discontinue the her prescribed medication. Also noting that Gardner had defied the board by failing to attend counseling, the Tribunal reprimanded him and issued a $10,000 fine.


"Mercury-free" dentist reprimanded for deceptive advertising, Mark Hassed, who practices in Canterbury, Victoria, has been disciplined for "unprofessional conduct of a serious nature." Hassed's Web site states that he practices "mercury-free dentistry." In 2005, the Dental Practice Board of Victoria concluded that he had advertised statements about amalgam that the board considered to be inappropriate scaremongering. The board's report also mentions that in 1996 his registration had been suspended for six weeks for unprofessional conduct. Hassed appealed the 2005 decision. In 2006, the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) agreed that he had acted unprofessionally but concluded that the breach was not serious and reduced his penalty to a reprimand. However, the Victoria Supreme Court ordered the VCAT to hear the case again. In 2007, VCAT upheld the board. Hassed was fined $4,000 and cautioned that his future advertisements must not be false, misleading, or deceptive.


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