Consumer Health Digest #15-14

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 5, 2015


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 stem cell marketer loses medical license. The Medical Board of California has revoked the license of William C. Rader, M.D. a psychiatrist who had been supplying fetal stem cell therapy through foreign clinics since the late 1990s. Documents from the medical board proceedings state:

The medical board assessment of Rader was quite severe:

[Rader's] dishonest conduct can only be described as self-serving, showing poor character, a lack of integrity, and an unwillingness to follow the law. The Board has reviewed the disciplinary guidelines, and can find no term or condition that could aid Respondent's rehabilitation and still provide protection to the public. Under these circumstances, protection of the public trumps rehabilitation efforts and the Board finds that Respondent's physician and surgeon certificate must be revoked.

Stem cell therapy is a promising area for research. Stem cells have the ability to give rise to many specialized cells in an organism. Certain types of stem cells are already used to restore blood-forming and immune system function after high-dose chemotherapy for some types of cancer, and several other restorative uses have been demonstrated. If scientists can learn how to control stem cell conversion into new, functionally mature cells, doctors might be able to cure many diseases for which therapy is currently inadequate. However, the claims made by commercial promoters go way beyond what is now likely and should be regarded with extreme skepticism. [Barrett S. The shady side of embryonic stem cell therapy. Quackwatch, April 5, 2015]


Free online vaccine course coming. The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is offering a free 6-week online course on vaccines that is scheduled to begin on April 13. The course will be taught through Coursera by Paul Offit, M.D., Director of the Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The course will discuss vaccine history, science, benefits, risks, and "controversies" plus updates on new vaccines and recent outbreaks of previously controlled diseases. Each week's content will include video lectures plus quizzes and assessment questions.


"Free footwear" mill broken up. Four medical doctors, one osteopathic physician, and four podiatrists were among 23 defendants named in a 199-count indictment which alleges they participated in a scheme that lured people to corrupt medical clinics for unnecessary services. The indictment states:

The Brooklyn District Attorney began investigating in 2012 after a woman reported being taken to one of the clinics where she met a podiatrist and was given a knee brace and sneakers. When she said she did not need the knee brace, she was told she had to take it to get the sneakers. In 2016, the District Attorney's office withdrew the charges against one of the medical doctors after concluding that he had been a victim of identity theft.

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This page was revised on December 20, 2016.