Consumer Health Digest #07-16

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
April 17, 2007


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.


Chondroitin takes double hit. Researchers who have evaluated published research on chondroitin sulfate for osteoarthritis have concluded: "Large-scale methodologically sound trials indicate that the symptomatic benefit of chondroitin is minimal or nonexistent. Use of chondroitin in routine clinical practice should be avoided." Reichenbach S and others. Meta-analysis: Chondroitin for osteoarthritis of the knee or hip. Annals of Internal Medicine 146:580-590, 2007] Meanwhile, ConsumerLab.com has reported that 8 out of 20 products said to contain chondroitin failed its quality tests, with four containing between 0% and 8% of amount stated on the label. [Product review: Joint supplements (glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM), ConsumerLab.com, April 11, 2007—Report summary is free; detailed report requires a small fee or a subscription]


Stem-cell doctor facing more charges. The California Attorney General is seeking a court order to compel David Steenblock, D.O. to cooperate with an investigation into two complaints about his management of patients. One patient was a 2-year old child with cerebral palsy who had an allergic reaction to a stem cell injection at Dr. Steenblock's Brain Cell Therapeutic Clinic in Mission Viejo, California. The other patient was a 77-year-old man with neurologic damage from a stroke whom Steenblock treated with daily administration of hyperbaric oxygen. (Hyperbaric oxygen has no proven value for this type of problem.) This complaint also alleged that Steenblock had double-billed for the treatment. The motion to compel (shown below) states that Steenblock's attorney, had failed to cooperate with government efforts to arrange an interview with Steenblock. In 1991, Steenblock was charged with negligence in connection with two patients he had treated. In 1994, the case was settled with a stipulation under which he agreed to serve five years of probation, pay $10,000 for costs, and take extra continuing education courses in pharmacology, medical charting, and ethics. In 1997, Steenblock was charged with violating his probation by not paying the $10,000 assessment and by using three unlicensed "physical therapy assistants" to administer patient services. (In 1997, the employees were convicted of practicing physical therapy without a license.) In 2000, after Steenblock had paid the $10,000 and hired a licensed physical therapist to supervise the others, the board assessed another $3,500 toward costs but decided not to penalize him for "aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of physical therapy." The proceedings also had the effect of extending his probation for three months. Last year, Steenblock acquired a homeopathic medical license in Nevada, under which he might be able to practice if his California license is restricted or revoked.


Herbal "sex aid" recalled. Jen-On HerbalScience International, Inc. of City of Industry, California, which markets traditional Chinese herbal products, is conducting a voluntary nationwide recall of H S Joy of Love. The company is conducting this recall after being informed that an FDA lab analysis found the product contains Piperadino Vardenafil, an analog of Vardenafil, an FDA-approved drug for treating male erectile dysfunction (ED). Piperadino Vardenafil is close in structure to Vardenafil and may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin) to lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or heart disease often take nitrates. ED is a common problem in men with these conditions, and consumers may seek these types of products to enhance sexual performance. Consumers who have the product should stop using it immediately and phone the company for instructions on obtaining a refund. [Jen-On Herbal Science International, Inc. issues a voluntary nationwide recall of H S Joy of Love, a product marketed as a dietary supplement. FDA press release, April 17, 2007] Herbal products can be marketed as dietary supplements as long as no therapeutic claims are made for them. However, the HerbalScience Web site makes many blatantly illegal claims. For example, the page describing Ruan Jian Xiao Zhen Tang states: "This prescription has a wide range of clinical applications in the improvement of the carcinoma, benign tumor patients, or patients suffering from obesity who have yellow, greasy tongue coating accompanied by hypertension. This formula can also help tuberculosis, and chronic lymphadenitis (infections of the lymph glands and nodes) found on the neck regions."


Paranormal encyclopedia has been posted. The complete text of James Randi's book, An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural is now accessible on the James Randi Educational Foundation Web site.


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This page was revised on June 4, 2010.