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Convicted U.S. felon’s “Cures” tops book charts

August 22, 2005

By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) – He went to prison for fraud and was
ordered by the U.S. government to stop touting health products
on infomercials, but Kevin Trudeau’s book “Natural Cures ‘They’
Don’t Want You to Know About” is a bestseller.

Trudeau, who for years sold snoring remedies and memory
enhancers through long-format commercials dressed up as talk
shows, says he is a consumer advocate battling the “unholy
alliance” of drug companies and government regulators.

“It’s all about money. The drug industry does not want
people to get healthy,” he says in a commercial for his book.
Trudeau says he has sold about 4 million copies of the book in
less than a year, a huge amount for a self-published book
marketed initially only through the Internet and television
infomercials.

The book — whose back cover says “Never get sick again!”
and “Learn the specific natural cures for herpes, acid reflux,
diabetes … cancer … and more!” — has topped the Publishers
Weekly nonfiction bestseller list for the past three weeks.

That attracted the attention of the New York Consumer
Protection Board, which issued a warning this month that
Trudeau promised cures he did not deliver.

“This book is exploiting and misleading people who are
searching for cures to serious illnesses,” said Teresa
Santiago, who chairs the board. “From cover to cover, this book
is a fraud,” she said, adding that a doctor quoted apparently
endorsing the book died in 2001.

Trudeau filed a lawsuit to stop the Consumer Protection
Board from approaching TV stations to persuade them not to air
his infomercials.

He says he recommends herbs, vitamins and other alternative
treatments and, while urging people to consult doctors, lists
cures such as shark cartilage for tumors and organic dark
chocolate for stress.

“There are multiple ways to cure cancer without drugs and
surgery,” Trudeau told Reuters, adding that drug companies
eschew natural products because they are unprofitable.

The National Center for Complementary and Alternative
Medicine said it is spending more than $120 million this year
investigating everything from acupuncture to chamomile tea and
the National Cancer Institute spends another $128 million.

“PARANOID FANTASY”

Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist who runs a Web site
called Quackwatch, described Trudeau’s book as “a collection of
false ideas” that included dangerous advice such as the claim
that sunscreen can cause cancer so it should not be used.

“The danger of the book is it’s an attempt to shape public
opinion so people don’t trust science-based health care.”

Barrett said he too was suspicious about excessive profits
in the drug industry, but said it was “paranoid fantasy” to
suggest they would suppress or ignore cures.

“A lot of people are angry because drugs are so expensive,”
he said, explaining the book’s draw. “He’s promising magic.”

In September, Trudeau agreed to pay $2 million to settle a
U.S. Federal Trade Commission lawsuit over his claim that
“Coral Calcium” could cure or prevent cancer but admitted no
wrongdoing. Trudeau agreed to stop marketing health products,
but he was allowed to market books.

The FTC called the case an example to “other habitual false
advertisers,” prompting a lawsuit from Trudeau.

FTC attorney Laura Sullivan said the regulator was watching
Trudeau carefully but had taken no action over the book.

Sullivan said the FTC sanction barring him from making
infomercials for anything but books was “extraordinary” and
followed a string of previous fraud charges that were settled.

Trudeau, 42, was jailed for 22 months in the early 1990s
over credit card fraud — something Trudeau dismissed as
nothing more than a youthful indiscretion.

Reader reviews on Amazon.com revealed strong opinions,
including complaints that his book refers readers to his Web
site for more information.

Trudeau’s site offers monthly membership at $9.95 and
lifetime membership for $499. He said he charges because he
takes no advertising and he spends $1.5 million a week on
infomercials.

“I’m doing this virtually as a nonprofit,” he said. “I’m
not doing this for the money. It’s a passion.”




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