Consumer Health Digest #15-46

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
November 22, 2015


Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. 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.


Group launched to facilitate personal drug importation. The Prescription Justice Action Group (PJAG) is now available to help Americans whose imported prescription drugs are intercepted by the FDA. Due to the high prices in the United States, about five million Americans are ordering drugs online from foreign pharmacies. Although many foreign pharmacies are not legitimate and pose a safety threat, PJAG's leaders believe it is possible to identify safe sources. But Section 708 of the Administration Safety and Innovation Act of 2012 authorizes the FDA to destroy personally imported medication regardless of product quality. To protect and improve access to affordable medications, PJAG advocates four policies:

PJAG's directors are Stephen Barrett, M.D.; David Belk, M.D. (TrueCostOfHealthCare); Tod Cooperman, M.D. (ConsumerLab.com); Douglas Grover, Esq.; Lee Graczyk (RxRights.org); Gabriel Levitt (PharmacyChecker.com); and James "Jake" Nadler (Berkshire Prescription Services).


Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) seller receives prison sentence. Louis Daniel Smith, 45, was sentenced to 51 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. In June, a jury convicted Smith of six criminal counts related to marketing an industrial bleach as a "miracle cure" for cancer, AIDS, malaria, hepatitis, Lyme disease, asthma, the common cold, and many other diseases. MMS contains a 28% solution of sodium chlorite, which, when mixed with an acid such as citrus juice, produces chlorine dioxide, a potent bleach used for stripping textiles and industrial water treatment. High oral doses, such as those recommended in MMS labeling, can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and symptoms of severe dehydration. Sodium chlorite is not legal to sell for human consumption, and legitimate suppliers of the chemical include a warning sheet stating that it can cause potentially fatal side effects if swallowed. Evidence presented at trial indicated that Smith (a) created phony "water purification" and "wastewater treatment" businesses in order to obtain sodium chlorite and ship his MMS without being detected by the FDA or U.S. Customs and Border Protection and (b) hid evidence from FDA inspectors and destroyed evidence while law enforcement agents were executing search warrants. Before Smith's trial, three of his conspirators pleaded guilty to introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. Quackwatch has a history of MMS-related enforcement actions.


Trial of Robert O. Young begins. Robert O. Young, author of The pH Miracle, has begun standing trial for grand theft and practicing medicine without a license. [Figueroa T. Trial starts for pH Miracle author. San Diego Tribune, Nov 18, 2015] The charges allege that he broke the law when he went beyond advocating dietary changes and administered intravenous treatments to patients at his avocado ranch in Valley Center, California. The case involves a dozen alleged victims, six of whom died. Young, who represents himself as "Dr. Young," has a "Ph.D." from Clayton College of Natural Health, a nonaccredited correspondence school that closed in 2010 after Alabama began requiring accreditation for license renewal. The central premise of Young's approach—which lacks scientific support—is that health depends primarily on proper balance between an alkaline and acid cellular environment that can be optimized by dietary modification and taking supplements. [Barrett S. A critical look at "Dr." Robert Young's theories and credentials. Quackwatch, Jan 25, 2014] Young's Web site asserts that he and his wife Shelley "have established themselves as the preeminent scientific researchers on how to balance the body chemistry and achieve one's ideal weight."


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This page was posted on November 23, 2015.