Posts Tagged ‘snake oil’

Dr. Carson’s Snake Oil

November 4, 2015

Dr. Carson's Snake Oil

One of the so-called “gotcha” questions Carl Quintanilla asked Dr. Ben Carson on CNBC’s October 28th reality show was about his involvement with Mannatech, a shady medical supplement company. “I didn’t have an involvement with them,” the candidate replied. “That is total propaganda, and this is what happens in our society. Total propaganda,” the Doc harrumphed. A great media moment, but denying a verifiable fact is never a good long-term strategy.

Ten months before the debate, Jim Geraghty of the National Review described Ben Carson’s decade-long relationship with the purveyor of unproven “neutraceutical” nostrums, a firm that paid $4 million to settle a false medical claims suit, a firm thouroughly discredited in a 2007 ABC 20/20 investigation.

So Mr. Quintanilla’s debate question should have come as no surprise. Ben Carson shilled for Mannatech on PBS in 2014 and The Wall Street Journal‘s Mark Maremont had outlined Dr. Carson’s decade-long relationship with Mannatech just weeks before the CNBC event.

Since the debate, has Dr. Carson addressed the fact that for 10 years he promoted medical hokum for money? No. He tried to sidestep the issue of his personal and professional ethics by blaming his political opponents for raising this controversy, another clear falsehood. So much for the moral high ground.

More:

“What Ben Carson’s Mannatech Answer Tells Us,” Jim Geraghty, National Review

“Springtime for Grifters,”New York Times

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Dr. Oz and The Baloney Diet

October 21, 2014

Dr. Oz and the Baloney Diet

Produced by Joss Fong, Joe Posner, Alex Hawley; narrated by Julia Belluz.

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Virginia Firm Stops Hawking Snake Oil

August 16, 2014

Virginia Firm Stops Hawking Snake Oil

Before the prosecution rested in the public corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his former NFL Cheerleader wife Maureen last week, the focus shifted to the patent nostrum sold by Jonnie Williams, who is said to have given the couple high-priced gifts in return for promoting his product, a snake oil named Anatabloc. The active ingredient in Anatabloc is Anatabine, an alkaloid derived from tobacco.

Anatabloc was said to “reduce inflammation and support a healthy metabolism” but was marketed as a “dietary supplement” to avoid those pesky clinical trials required of drugs. That didn’t keep the firm from claiming that the stuff can mitigate Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis and traumatic brain injuries. You know, like a drug. Finally, the FDA caught them at it and issued a stern letter.

But the McDonnell trial has increased scrutiny on and skepticism of Anatabloc, so the manufacturer has finally stopped selling it. If you’re a political memorabilia collector, maybe you can still find a jar behind the counter at your local GNC.

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Image parody by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Virginia Snake Oil: Love Potion?

August 7, 2014

Virginia Snake Oil: Love Potion Number 9?

In the soap opera that is the public corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his former NFL Cheerleader wife Maureen, the defense claims the couple’s relationship was bad, so the Gov didn’t know the Mrs. had a crush on “diet supplement” peddler Jonnie Williams and tried to trade government favors in return for his high-priced gifts. Today, however, the focus shifted to the patent nostrum sold by said Mr. Williams, a snake oil named Anatabloc.

The active ingredient in Anatabloc is Anatabine, an alkaloid derived from tobacco. Star Scientific, Mr. William’s company at the time, sold discount cigarettes and smokeless tobacco through a subsidiary, but sales weren’t too good, so … right. Anatabloc was said to “reduce inflammation and support a healthy metabolism” but was marketed as a “dietary supplement” to avoid those pesky clinical trials required of drugs. That didn’t keep the firm from claiming that the crap could mitigate Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis and traumatic brain injuries. You know, like a drug. Finally, the FDA caught them at it and issued a stern letter. Heavens to Betsy.

So that’s what Virginia First Lady Maureen McDonnell was shilling in the Executive Mansion in 2011 on behalf of love interest Jonnie Williams.  Mr. Williams claims he viewed the gifts of luxury items and loans of his vacation resort home and Ferrari sports car to the Governor and his wife as part of a business relationship, but Mrs. McDonnell’s lawyer claims she was smitten with Mr. Williams.

Wait a minute. Is romantic attraction a result of taking Anatabloc? That’s worth billions.

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Dr. Oz: Miracle Snake Oil Diet!

June 24, 2014

Dr. Oz: Miracle Snake Oil Diet!

Reality TV star Mehmet Öz, MD testified before a Senate committee last week about fraudulent weight loss scams. He knows all about it; he’s been promoting the likes of green coffee bean extractGarcinia Cambogia, forskolin, and gluten-free everything for years, when he’s not endorsing faith healing and homeopathy.

Has he no shame? Nope.

More:

“Senators to Dr. Oz: Stop Promising Weight-Loss Miracles,” James Hamblin, The Atlantic

“Dr. Oz, still shilling as fast as he can,” Michael Hilzik, Los Angeles Times

“Celebrity turns a good doctor into a snake oil pitchman,” Dr. Manny Alvarez, Fox News

“Dr. Oz Defends His ‘Miracles,'” National Journal

“Dr. Oz Defends His Pseudoscientific Claims As Harmless ‘Flowery Language,'” Francie Diep, Popular Science

“Dr. Oz: World’s Best Snake Oil Salesman,” Russell Saunders, Daily Beast

“It’s Time to Turn Off TV Doctors,” April Siese, Daily Beast

“The Operator,” Michael Spector, The New Yorker

“Why Dr. Oz can say anything and keep his medical license,” Julia Belluz, Vox

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