Consumer Health Digest #09-24

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
June 11, 2009


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.


British ad regulators pan subluxation-based chiropractic claims. Last October, the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ordered the Ideal Spine Centre in Blean, Canterbury to stop claiming that a program of periodic spinal checkups throughout life would have an impact on resistance to disease. [ASA Adjudication, Oct 15, 2008] The clinic is run by Christian H. E. Farthing, an Australian-trained chiropractor who began practicing in the United Kingdom in 2000. During ASA's proceedings, Matthew McCoy DC, Director of Life University, Marietta, Georgia provided a review of "vertebral subluxation" and its application within chiropractic. He also referenced various trials that he said showed chiropractic and subluxation had an impact on wellness and quality of life.The ASA's Adjudication concluded:

The review of the purpose, principles and practice of chiropractic provided in support of the ad did not justify the implication in the ad that having the spine checked throughout life would have an impact on resistance to disease. We were also concerned that the claim "If you know someone who is regularly suffering from colds, ear infections, chest infections or are generally run down, tell them to get a wellness check-up by a Wellness Doctor ... start building a healthier immune system by strengthening your spine and nervous system ..." implied that Christian Farthing's treatment could prevent or treat prolonged or recurrent bacterial or viral infections. We concluded that the Ideal Spine Centre had not justified this implication and the ad was likely to mislead.

In 2003, the UK's General Chiropractic Council, found Farthing guilty of unprofessional conduct and suspended him from its register, which means that he cannot legally practice as a chiropractor. Rather than closing his clinic, however, he simply began calling himself a "Spinal Specialist."


Single-payer health reform bill needs support. American Health Security Act of 2009 (SB 703, HR 1200) would cover all of the 46 million Americans who currently lack coverage and would improve benefits for others by eliminating co-pays and deductibles. The Act's provisions include:

By eliminating the high overhead and profits of the private, investor-owned insurance industry, along with the burdensome paperwork imposed on physicians, hospitals and other providers, the plan would save at least $400 billion annually, enough to provide comprehensive, quality care to all. This contrasts with other plans that retain a central role for the private insurance industry and sacrifice both universal coverage and effective cost-containment. Physicians for a National Health Program, which has more than 16,000 members, is urging the public to ask their Congressional representatives to support these single-payer proposals.


Australian homeopath and wife convicted of manslaughter. A jury in New South Wales has found Thomas Sam and his wife Manju guilty of manslaughter by failing to utilize medical care before their 9-month-old daughter died from malnutrition and infections related to chronic eczema. The prosecution successfully argued the couple were criminally negligent by persisting with homeopathic remedies instead of seeking conventional medical help in the last two weeks of her life. The jury was also told that the daughter's rash was so bad at age six months that her skin would weep and tear when her parents changed her clothing and diapers. As her health deteriorated, the parents continued to administer homeopathic drops and ointments recommended by Thomas's professional peers. [Homeopath Thomas Sam guilty of daughter Gloria's death. Daily Telegraph, June 5, 2009] Press reports also state that Thomas was educated in homeopathy in India and that the jury was told that Manju came from a culture where homeopaths were on equal footing with conventional doctors. [Eczema death parents 'on equal footing with doctors'. Daily Telegraph, May 6, 2009]


Previous Issue || Next Issue

This page was revised on June 13, 2009.