A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

STOP THE CAMPAIGN - Edinburgh City Council has got evidence that chiropractic is an effective treatment for colic

But they won't tell me what it is.

The result of my original burst of 80 odd trading standards complaints has been hugely positive. Most offices have responded with business advice that the trader should remove the claims and for the large part they have done so.

But interestingly, my complaint to Edinburgh City Council about Health for Life has so far resulted in a dead end.
Since your last e-mail I have contacted Health for Life regarding the treatment of colic. They have provided me with sufficient evidence to support their claims regarding the use of chiropractic for those with colic. In light of this, Trading Standards will not be taking any further action in this matter.
So, quite reasonably, I asked if I could see this evidence.
I regret that I am unable to provide details of the evidence and substantiation provided as this information has been obtained using powers provided for the discharge of my duties.

But this evidence is clearly important, so I wrote to Health for Life themselves:

Dr. Paul Homoky,

I recently made a complaint against you to Edinburgh Trading Standards regarding claims to treat colic using chiropractic on your web site.

I have been told by Edinburgh trading standards that you have provided evidence and substantiation to back up your claims. However, they are unable to pass this evidence onto me.

The importance of this evidence cannot be underestimated. I have made a large number of similar complaints to both trading standards and the GCC and have more ready to send out. Over 100 practices have already changed their advertising material. If there is good evidence in favour of this treatment that I previously missed, it is critical that I withdraw these complaints with immediate effect and apologise to those affected - therefore allowing children access to an efficacious treatment that is currently being denied to them.

If this evidence does not exist, it is important that I continue my campaign to ensure more children are not subjected to a pointless and potentially risky intervention.

But without seeing the evidence, I can only presume that Edinburgh Trading Standards has made a mistake in evaluating the quality of evidence on offer.

I hope you appreciate the importance and will be able to send me details of the relevant studies.

Many thanks,

Simon Perry.
I look forward to their response.

The chiropractor's web pages on colic are here and here. And if you're interested, City of Edinburgh Trading Standards can be found here:

City of Edinburgh Council
Services for Communities
Trading Standards
Chesser House
500 Gorgie Road
Edinburgh
EH11 3YJ

T 0131 469 5643
F 0131 469 5411

21 comments:

Halbfrosch said...

I bet the council has been "convinced" by the 2 studies mentioned on the site. Both have also been cited by the BCA among their infamous "evidence" and subsequently dismissed by the scientific community as "non-evidence", since both were not RTCs. Interestingly enough, both this chirpractor and the BCA even admit that Klouger et al (1989), which is widely cited amongst the trade, is not a scientific trial as it lacks a control group.

Bailey said...

Perhaps you could ask Edinburgh Trading Standards what their criteria are for "sufficient evidence"? That certainly shouldn't be privileged information, and may even force them to consider this properly.

jdc325 said...

Ask Edinburgh City Council if the evidence they were provided with was any better than the two studies mentioned on the site (Mercer and Cook, Klougart). DC looked at those papers (among others) here.

Jon said...

Would they not have to reveal the evidence under a FOI request? Have you suggested to them that one might be forthcoming?

Zeno said...

They may have an exemption, but an FOI request, as Jon suggests, is worth a go. Even the threat of one...

gimpyblog said...

Oh, I contacted this joker back in January over claims he was making, he never replied. Much of the content on his site is off the peg content replicated across many chiropractor sites (i'll try and dig out links later) so I suspect his evidence to TS was the same.

Simon said...

Thanks for all the great ideas. I'm going with the following FoI inquiry:

1. What are City of Edinburgh Council Trading Standards' criteria for sufficient evidence when assessing a claim to be able to treat disease?

2. Would City of Edinburgh Council Trading Standards accept case histories as adequate evidence when assessing the efficacy of a treatment to treat a self-limiting disease?

3. Would City of Edinburgh Council Trading Standards accept unpublished studies as adequate evidence when assessing the efficacy of a treatment?

3. What training do City of Edinburgh Council Trading Standards' Enforcement Officers receive to ensure they can adequately assess the validity of studies testing the efficacy of a medical treatment?

4. What is City of Edinburgh Council Trading Standards' policy for dealing with trading standards complaints where an assessment of the evidence falls outside the expertise of the enforcement officers?

gimpyblog said...

Here are some links to chirorpactic sites with suspiciously similar wording

http://ewellchiropractic.co.uk/doctor/chiropractor/521S/chiropractic-Ewell/for-chiropractic-sceptics.htm
http://www.edinburgh-chiropractor.co.uk/doctor/chiropractor/521S/chiropractic-Edinburgh/for-chiropractic-sceptics.htm
http://www.drjeffprice.com/chiropractic-skeptics.html
http://www.spicerwellness.com/gpage17.html
http://www.bridesburgchiropractic.com/office.php
http://shoreviewchiropractor.blogspot.com/2009/02/does-chiropractic-work-skepticism-myths.html
http://www.merchantcircle.com/blogs/Advanced.Chiropractic.And.Wellness.Clinic.651-484-0151/2008/8/Does-Chiropractic-Work-Skepticism-And-Myths-About-Chiropractic/110680
http://www.njchiropractors.com/printformat.asp?chiropractor=521S

Alex said...

I find it intresting that they didn't reference the 'Mercer and Cook' study correctly on their website. The only reference I could find and the one cited on DC's page was 'Mercer and NOOK'!

Jo said...

Slightly off topic - what sort of cases do Trading Standards department folk typically deal with? Is it mostly the woo-ier side of things or is it something else?

I was just wondering how common this sort of area is for them.

I was also wondering if every single trading standards department in the UK has been notified, at some point, of at least one local woo, and if there's a database highlighting those who've not yet been alerted ;)

Simon said...

@Jo. I don't think they're particularly experienced at dealing with this sort of claim. I spoke extensively to Leicester TS regarding a different complaint and really had to explain what homeopathy was, how clinical trials are performed, the dangers of TCM.

This is in stark contrast to Edinburgh where they just don't seem interested in doing anything. At least, that's the impression I get.

Felix_the_Mac said...

Simon,

you didn't list it, but I assume your FOI request will directly ask for the evidence provided to them by the practitioner?

Simon said...

@Felix_the_Mac

Actually, I didn't include ask that question because I figured they wouldn't answer it anyway. I'll see what they come back with from the first request.

Felix_the_Mac said...

That's a shame, after all they could only say no and they would have to give a reason.

Nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how they respond to your request.

Keep up the good work!

Michael Kingsford Gray said...

It is startlingly obvious to me that they are under they mesmerism of the woo brigade.

Blue Bubble said...

Bravo Simon,

"The importance of this evidence cannot be underestimated." That should really be "The importance of this evidence cannot be overestimated."

Sorry, it's just one of my pet hates.

Les Rose said...

Interesting - exactly my experience with Wiltshire Trading Standards regarding an unrelated compliant. I was told that I was not allowed to see the evidence because it was commercially sensitive and confidential. I'd like to see a drug company try that!

Simon said...

@Blue_Bubble

Whoops, yes I'll fix that. Once we see the evidence though, I expect the original wording may be more accurate.

Tristan said...

I see he implies chiro can be effective against cancer:

"Dr. Homoky recalls, “Every month, my mum would take us all along to the ‘bone cruncher’ for our regular spinal check-up. Of course, she would also have her spine checked. At the time, she was fighting cancer and had exhausted the medical alternatives. The chiropractor’s natural techniques and advice helped her body heal itself from within, and her dramatically improved health during that period was seen as a ‘miracle’ that baffled doctors. So chiropractic was an important part of my life right from the start.”

Nice.

Anyway, have you complained about his use of the term Dr?

He doesn't seem to be on the GMC register.

Simon said...

@Tristan

Shocking. I've passed this information onto Edinburgh Trading Standards.

Simon said...

@Tristan. Nice work, Edinburgh are now investigating the cancer claim as a possible breach of The Cancer Act 1939.