Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Saturday, October 13, 2007
By The Quackometer
The Society of Homeopaths (SoH) are a shambles and a bad joke. It is now
over a year since Sense about Science, Simon Singh and the BBC Newsnight
programme exposed how it is common practice for high street homeopaths to
tell customers that their magic pills can prevent malaria. The Society of
Homeopaths have done diddly-squat to stamp out this dangerous practice apart
from issue a few ambiguously weasel-worded press statements.
The SoH has a code of practice, but my feeling is that this is just a
smokescreen and is widely flouted and that the Society do not care about
this. If this is true, then the code of practice is nothing more than a thin
veneer used to give authority and credibility to its deluded members. It
does nothing more than fool the public into thinking they are dealing with a
As a quick test, I picked a random homeopath with a web site from the SoH
register to see if they flouted a couple of important rules:
48: . Advertising shall not contain claims of superiority. . No advertising
may be used which expressly or implicitly claims to cure named diseases.
72: To avoid making claims (whether explicit or implied; orally or in
writing) implying cure of any named disease.
The homeopath I picked on is called Julia Wilson and runs a practice from
the Leicestershire town of Market Harborough. What I found rather shocked
and angered me.
Straight away, we find that Julia M Wilson LCHE, RSHom specialises in asthma
and works at a clinic that says,
Many illnesses and disease can be successfully treated using homeopathy,
including arthritis, asthma, digestive disorders, emotional and behavioural
difficulties, headaches, infertility, skin and sleep problems.
Well, there are a number of named diseases there to start off. She also
gives a leaflet that advertises her asthma clinic. The advertising leaflet
Conventional medicine is at a loss when it comes to understanding the origin
of allergies. ... The best that medical research can do is try to keep the
symptoms under control. Homeopathy is different, it seeks to address the
triggers for asthma and eczema. It is a safe, drug free approach that helps
alleviate the flaring of skin and tightening of lungs...
Now, despite the usual homeopathic contradiction of claiming to treat causes
not symptoms and then in the next breath saying it can alleviate symptoms,
the advert is clearly in breach of the above rule 47 on advertising as it
implicitly claims superiority over real medicine and names a disease.
Asthma is estimated to be responsible for 1,500 deaths and 74,000 emergency
hospital admissions in the UK each year. It is not a trivial illness that
sugar pills ought to be anywhere near. The Cochrane Review says the
following about the evidence for asthma and homeopathy,
The review of trials found that the type of homeopathy varied between the
studies, that the study designs used in the trials were varied and that no
strong evidence existed that usual forms of homeopathy for asthma are
This is not a surprise given that homeopathy is just a ritualised placebo.
Hopefully, most parents attending this clinic will have the good sense to go
to a real accident and emergency unit in the event of a severe attack and
consult their GP about real management of the illness. I would hope that
Julia does little harm here.
However, a little more research on her site reveals much more serious
concerns. She says on her site that 'she worked in Kenya teaching homeopathy
at a college in Nairobi and supporting graduates to set up their own
clinics'. Now, we have seen what homeopaths do in Kenya before. It is not
treating a little stress and the odd headache. Free from strong UK
legislation, these missionary homeopaths make the boldest claims about the
A bit of web research shows where Julia was working (picture above). The
Abha Light Foundation is a registered NGO in Kenya. It takes mobile
homeopathy clinics through the slums of Nairobi and surrounding villages.
Its stated aim is to,
introduce Homeopathy and natural medicines as a method of managing HIV/AIDS,
TB and malaria in Kenya.
I must admit, I had to pause for breath after reading that. The clinic sells
its own homeopathic remedies for 'treating' various lethal diseases. Its
is a homeopathic preparation for prevention of malaria and treatment of
malaria. Suitable for children. For prevention. Only 1 pill each week before
entering, during and after leaving malaria risk areas. For treatment. Take 1
pill every 1-3 hours during a malaria attack.
This is nothing short of being totally outrageous. It is a murderous
delusion. David Colquhoun has been writing about this wicked scam recently
and it is well worth following his blog on the issue.
Let's remind ourselves what one of the most senior and respected homeopaths
in the UK, Dr Peter Fisher of the London Homeopathic Hospital, has to say on
there is absolutely no reason to think that homeopathy works to prevent
malaria and you won't find that in any textbook or journal of homeopathy so
people will get malaria, people may even die of malaria if they follow this
Malaria is a huge killer in Kenya. It is the biggest killer of children
under five. The problem is so huge that the reintroduction of DDT is
considered as a proven way of reducing deaths. Magic sugar pills and water
drops will do nothing. Many of the poorest in Kenya cannot afford real
anti-malaria medicine, but offering them insane nonsense as a substitute
will not help anyone.
Ironically, the WHO has issued a press release today on cheap ways of
reducing child and adult mortality due to malaria. Their trials, conducted
in Kenya, of using cheap mosquito nets soaked in insecticide have reduced
child deaths by 44% over two years. It says that issuing these nets be the
'immediate priority' to governments with a malaria problem. No mention of
homeopathy. These results were arrived at by careful trials and observation.
Science. We now know that nets work. A lifesaving net costs $5. A bottle of
useless homeopathic crap costs $4.50. Both are large amounts for a poor
Kenyan, but is their life really worth the 50c saving?
I am sure we are going to hear the usual homeopath bleat that this is just a
campaign by Big Pharma to discredit unpatentable homeopathic remedies. Are
we to add to the conspiracy Big Net manufacturers too?
It amazes me that to add to all the list of ills and injustices that our
rich nations impose on the poor of the world, we have to add the widespread
export of our bourgeois and lethal healing fantasies. To make a strong
point: if we can introduce laws that allow the arrest of sex tourists on
their return to the UK, can we not charge people who travel to Africa to
indulge their dangerous healing delusions?
At the very least, we could expect the Society of Homeopaths to try to stamp
out this wicked practice? Could we?
Sunday, January 08, 2006
For Release: January 3, 2006
Direct Response Marketer Banned
FTC Charged Braswell Made False Claims to Sell Dietary Supplements
The mastermind behind a scheme to sell dietary supplements using claims the Federal Trade Commission alleged were false and unsubstantiated has been banned from the direct response marketing of foods, unapproved drugs, and dietary supplements. The defendant, A. Glenn Braswell, who was already under another consent decree stemming from alleged violations of the FTC Act, also will pay $1 million and turn over assets worth $3.5 million to settle the FTC’s charges. The FTC also is announcing a settlement with one of the “expert” endorsers for Braswell’s dietary supplement products.
“We charged Braswell with peddling empty promises to consumers battling serious illnesses,” said Lydia Parnes, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This settlement will prevent him from profiting from these sorts of deceptive claims in the future, and deter others who may think they can get away with similar practices.”
Braswell sold dietary supplements, mostly through direct mail advertising, including the Journal of Longevity, a direct mail ad that purported to be a health-information magazine. The FTC alleged these ads, aimed at elderly consumers, used false and misleading claims of medical or scientific “breakthroughs,” expert endorsements, and misrepresented the results and applicability of scientific studies. According to the FTC, Braswell’s operation was one of the largest U.S. direct mail marketers of health-related products during the time he was running the companies.
The products the FTC targeted, Lung Support Formula, AntiBetic Pancreas Tonic, Gero Vita G.H.3, ChitoPlex, and Testerex, were supposed to cure, prevent, or treat a number of illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and emphysema. Braswell is the former owner of the California-based corporate defendants and controlled the misleading advertising and marketing materials.
In settling the FTC’s charges, Braswell not only is banned from direct response marketing (with a few exemptions, such as FDA approved product claims), he also is prohibited from making false, misleading, or unsubstantiated health claims, misrepresenting endorsements, making unsubstantiated endorsements, or misrepresenting scientific evidence for all foods, drugs, dietary supplements, and health-related products and services. Braswell already was under a 1983 consent order to resolve the FTC’s charges related to his marketing of baldness and anti-cellulite products.
Today, the FTC also is announcing a settlement with defendant Hans Kugler. The FTC alleged that Kugler was an expert endorser for two of the products, Lung Support Formula and Gero Vita G.H.3. The FTC’s complaint charged that Kugler did not have the required expertise or a reasonable basis for his endorsements. The settlement prohibits him from making future endorsements, unless they are based on competent and reliable scientific information and an actual exercise of his represented expertise, as well as misrepresentations about scientific tests or studies. Kugler will pay $15,000 in settlement of the allegations.
With today’s announced settlements, all of the seven corporate defendants and four of the five individual defendants have settled the FTC’s charges in this case. Litigation continues against Chase Revel.
The Commission votes authorizing staff to file the stipulated final orders were both 4-0. The stipulated final orders for permanent injunction were filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on October 21, 2005 (Kugler) and December 28, 2005 (Braswell).
NOTE: These stipulated final orders are for settlement purposes only and do not constitute an admission by the defendants of law violations. A stipulated final order requires approval by the court and has the force of law when signed by the judge.
Copies of the stipulated final orders are available from the FTC’s Web site at http://www.ftc.gov and also from the FTC’s Consumer Response Center, Room 130, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20580. The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish (bilingual counselors are available to take complaints), or to get free information on any of 150 consumer topics, call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), or use the complaint form at http://www.ftc.gov. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Friday, January 06, 2006By Karen Kane, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
A 5-year-old autistic boy who went into cardiac arrest in his doctor's office died as a result of the controversial chelation therapy he was receiving as a treatment for his autism.
The manner of death of Abubakar Tariq Nadama, of Monroeville, has been listed as accidental while the investigation continues."