Consumer Health Digest #13-19

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 16, 2013


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.


Major homeopathic manufacturers facing two class-action suits. Hyland's Inc. and Standard Homeopathic Company are facing class-action suits that charge that various products are marketed deceptively. One suit, filed on behalf of Kim Allen and seven others, is targeting twelve products (Calms Forte, Teething Tablets, Migraine Headache Relief, Clear Ac, Poison Ivy/Oak Tablets, Colic Tablets, Leg Cramps with Quinine, Leg Cramps, Defend Cold & Cough, Defend Cold & Cough Night, Hy1and's Cough, and Seasonal Allergy Relief). The other suit, filed on behalf of Enzo Forcellati, is aimed at six products claimed to relieve cough, sore throat, runny nose, headaches, and other cold and/or flu symptoms in children. Both suits note that because the products involve extreme dilutions of supposed "active ingredients," they cannot affect the ailments for which they are marketed. Both suits seek injunctive relief and damage awards. The Allen suit also asks for corrective advertising. A similar suit against Boiron was settled last year.


Shaklee distributor accused of operating Ponzi scheme. John W. Cranney of Belmont, Massachusetts, has been accused of operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded victims nationwide of more than $10 million. In July 2012, the Massachusetts Securities Division filed an administrative complaint charging him and three companies he operated with multiple violations of the Massachusetts Uniform Securities Act. Cranney, said to have sponsored 50,000 other distributors, is reportedly among the top 20 in the Shaklee Corporation hierarchy. The complaint states that beginning in 2002, Cranney used his Shaklee connections to solicit investments from family, friends, and colleagues who trusted him, but instead of making investments as promised, he retained most of the funds for personal gain. The Massachusetts agency is seeking temporary and permanent injunctions plus disgorgement of all wrongly obtained proceeds. Several of Cranney's victims have sued him. The Boston Globe has reported that after the complaint was filed, Shaklee suspended Cranney as a distributor and began withholding payments to him (estimated to be about $45,000 per month) and that the FBI raided Cranney's home in November 2012. [Healy B. Belmont businessman pressed on funds in court: Jack Cranney says FBI seized records of losses. The Boston Globe, April 9, 2013] Cranney filed for bankruptcy in March 2013. Shaklee is a multilevel company that markets dietary supplements through person-to-person sales.


Psychologist's license revoked for sexual exploitation. The Pennsylvania State Board of Psychology has revoked the license of Richard Scott Lenhart, Ph.D., who practiced in State College, Pennsylvania, for many years. Documents in the case indicated that he sexually exploited two female patients during "treatment" sessions, one for nearly seven years and the other for fifteen years. Although sexual exploitation by therapists is not rare, the extent and duration described in this case are extraordinary. At an administrative hearing, Lenhart did not deny what he did but attempted to justify his conduct as therapeutic. In addition to revocation, the board ordered Lenhart to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 plus investigative costs of $18,433. The full details are posted on Casewatch.


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This page was posted on May 17, 2013.