"Caught in the act" may be the best way to describe Checkpoint Systems, Inc. -- the second largest seller of electronic anti-shoplifting (EAS) systems.
Checkpoint has apparently given up on competing the old-fashioned way -- better products, lower prices -- and, in the true spirit of junk science, appears to be using cutthroat tactics to scare the public about EAS systems sold by the largest vendor, Sensormatic Electronic Systems, Inc.
The issue is whether EAS systems interact with medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers. Michael McIvor, a Florida doctor launched the scare in 1997 claiming that Sensormatic's systems "interfered" with pacemaker operation. McIvor was so successful that the FDA felt compelled to hold a hearing. But the September 24th hearing is where McIvor's success ended -- or should have.
The FDA, not an agency known to shy away from fomenting health scares, concluded in a letter to physicians that "Interactions with EAS systems and metal detectors are unlikely to cause clinically significant symptoms in most patients."
While such a statement should have ended the controversy, it hasn't.
Upon release of the FDA letter, Checkpoint issued press releases pointing out that its EAS systems did not interact with pacemakers. And Checkpoint apparently tells the media that its "technology is different and doesn't cause problems."
But the FDA did not distinguish between technologies or brands of EAS systems. All EAS systems are safe under normal use.
This wouldn't be a case of Checkpoint trying to scare the public about Sensormatic's EAS systems, would it?
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