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).

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Consumer Health Digest #05-20 May 17, 2005

Please subscribe to this excellent newsletter:

To subscribe, there are three steps:

1. Send a blank message to from the e-mail address at which you want to receive your copies.

2. You will receive a response headed: "CONFIRM subscribe to"

3. This reponse will ask you to send a confirmation message to a specified address. Usually all you have to do, is hit the "reply" button in your e-mail software. If this does not work, simply copy the address and paste it into the "To:" field of a new message.


Consumer Health Digest #05-20
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 17, 2005
Current # of subscribers: 10,291

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


Swimmer wins lawsuit against multivitamin marketer.

Kicker Vencill, who
was suspended from competition after failing a
urine drug test, has won a $578,000 jury verdict
against Ultimate Nutrition. Documents in the case
indicate that the company's Super Complete
Capsules, which Vencill took, contained enough
androstenediol, androstenedione, and
norandrostenedione to cause him to test
"positive" for steroids. [Fox B. Banned swimmer
wins case over supplements. USA Today, May 13,


New questions raised about Gary Null's credentials.

Dr. Stephen Barrett has updated his exposé of
Gary Null, whom he considers to be "of the
nation's leading promoters of dubious treatment
for serious disease." In 1989, Null acquired a
Ph.D. in Human Nutrition and Public Health
Sciences from The Union Institute, which is
accredited but lets students select and chair
their own Ph.D. committee. In January 2005,
Null's attorney David Slater demanded that
Quackwatch remove a 1999 article which said that
Null's Ph.D. thesis was based on an invalid
diagnostic test and had "contributed nothing" to
the world's scientific literature. As evidence of
an alleged contribution, Slater stated that two
updated versions of the thesis were accepted for
publication in peer-reviewed journals. It turned
out, however, that the articles to which Slater
referred were published in 1981 and 1984 in
obscure journals and had multiple authors, and
that Null was not listed as lead author of either
one. When Barrett asked Slater to clarify the
time frames and authorship and to state where
Null got an "M.S." degree listed after his name
in the articles, Slater replied: "My client has
instructed me to cease all further communications
with you." Slater also declined to provide
information about the nature and timing of any
courses Null had had in nutrition and public
health. [Barrett S. A critical look at Gary
Null's activities and credentials. Quackwatch,
March 13, 2005]


Bogus Liberian medical school under attack.

Liberia's National Transitional Legislative
Assembly (NTLA) has voted 29-10 to ask the
Liberia's Justice Ministry to close down the St.
Luke School of Medicine and to freeze its assets
until the agency finishes investigating. The NTLA
also resolved that all medical degrees issued by
the St. Luke School of Medicine be nullified and
anyone found using said degrees be prosecuted.
[West J. NTLA orders 'bogus' St. Luke University
closed. Daily Observer, May 10, 2005]
Last year, Liberia's National Commission of High
Education announced:

"As regards the St. Luke Medical College,
evidence also shows that no such college exists
in Liberia; therefore, it cannot claim to have
obtained accreditation from the Commission. The
Commission also nullifies the existence of such
an institution in Liberia, until such time as all
pertinent requirements as noted above are met. It
therefore goes without saying that similar notice
is being sent our to all institutions which are
making claims similar to St. Regis and St. Luke
that have not met the requirements as herein
noted. [Roland I. Urgent disclaimer on the
illegal establishment and recognition of higher
education institutions in the Republic of
Liberia. "Liberian Embassy Web site, October

Liberia's Minister of Health, Dr. Peter Coleman,
has been suspended indefinitely by the Liberia
Medical and Dental Association for his alleged
involvement in the school's operation. [Brooks
JC. LMDA suspends Health Minister for "act
incompartable." The Liberian Times, May 18, 2005]


Prolotherapy practitioner surrenders medical license.

In December 2004, psychiatrist Anne-Francis
Nicol, M.D. signed a consent order with the Rhode
Island Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline
under which she settled charges of unprofessional
conduct by agreeing to surrender her medical
license for at least a year.
The order and various press reports state:

**In 2002, Nicol had signed a consent order to
serve one year of probation during which (a) her
practice would be monitored, (b) she would not
prescribe Schedule II and III controlled drugs,
and (c) she would undergo a clinical skills
evaluation at the Colorado Physicians Evaluation

**Before undergoing the evaluation, she
prescribed Schedule IV controlled drugs and
administered prolotherapy and without adequately
documenting what she had done. (Prolotherapy is a
nonstandard procedure that involves injecting
glucose and other substances into painful areas
in an attempt to relieve the pain.) During this
period, two patients under Nicol's care died of
overdoses of the drugs Darvon (a pain reliever)
and doxepin (an antidepressant).

**The Colorado evaluators found significant areas
in which she needed remedial education and
further training.

**Nicol can reapply for licensure if she
satisfactorily completes at least one year of
approved psychiatric residency training and is
favorably reevaluated by the Colorado Physicians
Evaluation Program.

In December 2003, a jury acquitted Nicol of
criminal charges of first-degree arson brought by
police who had accused her of trying to burn down
her former landlady's home.


Other issues of the Digest are accessible through

For information about the National Council Against Health Fraud, see

If you enjoy the newsletter, please recommend it to your friends.

To unsubscribe, send a blank message to


Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Board Chairman, Quackwatch, Inc.
NCAHF Vice President and Director of Internet Operations
P.O. Box 1747, Allentown, PA 18105
Telephone: (610) 437-1795 (health fraud and quackery) (under construction) (guide to autism) (legal archive) (under construction) (guide to chiropractic) (under construction) (guide to dental care) (under construction) (under construction) (guide to homeopathy) (under construction) (guide to infomercials) (under construction) (multi-level marketing) (naturopathy) (nutrition facts and fallacies) (National Council Against Health Fraud) (consumer health sourcebook)

Editor, Consumer Health Digest

Donations to help support Quackwatch can be made
conveniently through PayPal or Amazon via