Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Consumer Health Digest #05-17, April 26, 2005.

Consumer Health Digest #05-17
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 26, 2005
Current # of subscribers: 10,236
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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.


AB Energizer marketers agree to pay $2+ million penalty.

The Federal Trade Commission has filed two proposed stipulated orders
in federal court resolving charges that the marketers of AB
Energizer, an electronic abdominal exercise belt, falsely advertised
that using the device caused weight loss, inch loss, and well-defined
"six-pack abs" without exercise. These orders are part of a global
settlement resolving an FTC lawsuit and related actions brought by
county and city prosecutors in California. The settlements call for
payment of more than $2 million. Over $1.4 million of this amount
will be for consumer redress. The balance will go to the California
prosecutors for costs and civil penalties. The defendants are based
in Southern California, with most located in San Diego. They include
Electronic Products Distribution, L.L.C.; AB Energizer Products,
Inc.; Abflex USA, Inc.; AB Energizer, L.L.C.; Thomas C. Nelson;
Martin Van Der Hoeven; Douglas Gravink; and Gary Hewitt. The orders
bar all of them from making the challenged claims for the AB
Energizer or any similar device. The consumer redress total includes
money from separate settlements between the California agencies and
Wal-Mart, Walgreen's, and Target, which marketed the device. [FTC
flexes its muscles in Ab Energizer Case: FTC and California get over
$1.4 million for consumers. FTC news release, April 22, 2005]


N.C. chiropractor imprisoned for insurance fraud.

Steven Ira Cohen, 53, who practiced in Greenville, North Carolina,
has been sentenced to 28 months in prison plus three years of
supervised release and has been ordered to pay $371,000 in
restitution to four insurance companies. Last year, Cohen was
indicted on 527 counts of health care fraud, 21 counts of mail fraud,
two counts of obstruction and one count each of conspiracy to commit
health care fraud and money laundering in connection with incidents
between 1999 and 2002. The charges stem from insurance claims
submitted for treatments that were never performed and from claims
that used provider numbers of doctors who had not provided the
services. In July 2004, Cohen pleaded guilty to two counts of mail
fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and the
other charges were dropped. [Karr A. Cohen gets 2 years, 4 months.
The Daily Reflector, April 22, 2005]


Stephen Edelson "retires."

Apparently in response to lawsuits and regulatory actions, Stephen B.
Edelson, M.D., has closed his Edelson Center for Environmental and
Preventive Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. The suits were brought by
parents of autistic children that he improperly diagnosed as
suffering from heavy metal toxicity and treated with chelation
therapy. The first suit was settled in 2002 for $180,000, and the
others were settled later for undisclosed sums. In 1995, the Georgia
Board of Medical Examiners settled charges against Edelson with a
consent agreement under which he was fined $5,000 and placed on two
years' probation with a condition that he not perform chelation
therapy except in documented (real) cases of heavy metal poisoning.
In April 2004, the Board reprimanded Edelson, fined him $1,000, and
placed him on 3 years' probation after concluding that he had been
inappropriately self-medicating and had become addicted to
benzodiazepine sleeping pills. In October 2004, Edelson posted a
letter to his Web site stating:

"Because I do not practice 'standard medicine,' it is easy for the
FDA, the Georgia Medical Board, and patients who do not see immediate
results, or the extent of the results we had hoped for, to attack me.
All of this has taken a tremendous toll on me and my family. . . . I
have begun the process of closing my clinic and transitioning into

Not long afterward, his Web site was shut down. For additional
details and links to the documents, see

Archived versions of Edelson's former site can be inspected at*/


Gerontology group issues anti-quackery book.

The Gerontological Society of America has published "Anti-Aging
Medicine: The Hype and the Reality," which contains 21 articles
published during 2004 in the Journal of Gerontology: Biological
Sciences. The price is $20 postpaid. Additional details and ordering
information are available at


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Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Board Chairman, Quackwatch, Inc.
NCAHF Vice President and Director of Internet Operations
P.O. Box 1747, Allentown, PA 18105
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