Caveat emptor, better known by its English translation as the term “buyer beware” has long stood as a warning to consumers. It is a phrase that serves to stress the importance of exercising both intelligence and logic when making a purchase. However, in light of detriments posed through the veil of fraudulent medical practices, a new phrase is in order: caveat patiens when translated simply means: patient beware. The Department of Sociology and Social Policy at Princeton University defines quackery as: “Medical practice and advice based on observation and experience in ignorance of scientific findings.” Medical and health care quackery has become a global dilemma which begs the question: What can be done to protect the public from companies peddling treatments and therapies with no scientifically proven benefit?
The College of Pharmacy at Southwestern Oklahoma State University has conducted considerable research in the area of medical quackery as it relates to the impact it has had and continues to have on the general public. Since 1994 when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) passed the “Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA),” the United States has become awash and inundated with companies promoting products that guarantee weight loss without exercise, provide sustained energy, build lean muscle, and a wealth of fantastic claims poised at a country of health conscious or alternative medical treatment seeking consumers. (Pray 2009) A large percentage of these products are not only aimed at the health conscious individual, but unfortunately also aimed at individuals seeking alternative treatments to medical conditions, some life threatening. Seemingly legitimate supplement providers offer nutritional products that claim to “support healthy immune systems and provide a basis for natural healing.” (Mehlman 2005) In essence, a multi-vitamin can make the same vague claim and with greater success. What the public does not know is that many of...
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