Consumer Health Digest #16-04

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
January 24, 2016


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.


Australia chiropractors are not sufficiently regulated. During the past two years, Australian activists Ken Harvey and Malcolm Vickers have found more than 200 chiropractic clinic Web sites with improper claims. In August 2015, he and a colleague sent ten representative complaints to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency, which supports the 14 national health practitioner boards and investigates complaints. The complaints involved 38 chiropractors who made 69 claims that included (a) offering chiropractic "adjustments" for childhood problems, such as allergies, middle-ear infections, asthma, colic and croup; (b) promoting regular chiropractic care for babies (claimed to prevent disease); (c) claiming that chiropractic care of pregnant women can shorten labor and prevent cesarean sections; and (d) using nonstandard allergy testing, hair mineral analysis, homeopathy, and other dubious approaches. The chiropractic board has expressed concern about the complaints but has taken no other apparent action. Three weeks ago, when the investigators looked again at the sites, they found little change. [Harvey K. Chiropractor watchdog must show some bite: It has been five years since clinic websites were told to adhere to legal requirements but little has changed. The Age, Jan 18, 2016]


Full report on the Pastoral Medical Association published. Credential Watch has published a detailed report on the Pastoral Medical Association (PMA), which issues "PSc.D." credentials, "licenses" provider members, and encourages providers to believe they can evade government regulation by doing business as a "private membership association." The report concludes that these activities have considerable potential for harm because:

The report also notes the colorful background history of Karl L. Dahlstrom, who is the chief developer and promoter of the private membership association concept.


Herbal cough product found to contain morphine. Master Herbs, Inc., of Pomona, California is voluntarily recalling all of its 100-ml bottles of Licorice Coughing Liquid because the product has been found to contain morphine that is not listed on the label. The cough syrup was distributed to Chinese grocery stores in California, New Jersey, Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio and Nevada. The company is not aware of any adverse events associated with the product, but unintended ingestion of morphine can lead to severe allergic reactions and life-threatening respiratory depression. [Master Herbs, Inc. issues voluntary nationwide recall of all lots of licorice coughing liquid due to the presence of morphine. Master Herbs press release. FDA Web site, Jan 20, 2016]


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This page was posted on January 24, 2016.