Consumer Health Digest #05-20

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
May 17, 2005


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.


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, 2005]


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 2004]

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 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.


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This page was posted on May 17, 2005.