Monday, December 7, 2015

They Are Out There

People want to separate you from your money.  Usually the way this works in a capitalist economy is by giving you something of value in return.  That is clearly not always the case.  As I’ve said several times recently, the high-tech and high-speed society makes us more vulnerable to some of these schemes.

For the first two examples I go to a health-related newsletter, Consumer Health Digest #15-46.  The following are excerpts with emphasis added.

“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.”  The story goes on to describe his elaborate planning and deception to avoid detection by the FDA, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and law enforcement agents.

“Robert O. Young, author of The pH Miracle, has begun standing trial for grand theft and practicing medicine without a license.  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. 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.”

The third example is similar in that it relies on a kind of too-good-to-be-true pitch.  The AMA has reversed its position on direct-to-consumer advertising by drug companies.  These are the ads we see frequently showing happy and carefree  (presumably cured) people and telling us to ask our doctors, followed by a litany of side effects and warnings.  AMA now believes any such ad “inflates demand for new and more expensive drugs, even when these drugs may not be appropriate.”  Doctors are put in an awkward position between the drug company trying to increase revenue and a patient with renewed hopes fostered by such ads but without medical expertise.

It may seem odd to juxtapose legal drug companies and these others standing trial or convicted of shady dealings, but it’s not a large step between promising miracle cures and implying speedy recovery and a happy life romping around with grandchildren or your true love.  We must be vigilant.  They are out there, and they want our money, sometimes only urging possibly inappropriate drugs but sometimes offering lethal potions.

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