Montreal

Gaétan Barrette warns against U.S. ultrasound company advertising in Quebec

Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is urging Quebecers to avoid an American company advertising in Quebec that claims it can detect hidden health risks by scanning internal organs.

Ultra Life Inc. claims to detect hidden health risks by scanning internal organs

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette, seen here in the National Assembly on Oct. 7, said it's unacceptable that Ultra Life preys on people's fears about their health. (Canadian Press/Jacques Boissinot)

Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette is urging Quebecers to avoid an American health care company that claims to be able to detect hidden illness by using ultrasounds.

Ultra Life Inc. is advertising in Quebec newspapers La Presse, Le Devoir and La Tribune this week. 

The company says it is hoping to persuade Quebec clients to drive south of the border to attend temporary clinics being set up in Vermont and New York hotels. Ultra Life is an American company that holds such clinics across the U.S.

There's no medicine. You are not being investigated,-  Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette

It sells "body scans" — ultrasound tests ranging in price from $60 to $500, intended to catch early signs of illness including cancer, stroke and heart disease. 

"This is the same equipment they use in the hospitals. This is the first best test to look at those areas because there's no radiation, there's no dye injection," George Graham, a company official, told CBC.

Graham said the ultrasounds are conducted by technologists, then test results are analyzed by medical doctors and sent to clients.

Ultra Life ad 'misleading': Barrette

He said Ultra Life has been advertising to Canadians for a decade, but this is the first time they've targeted Quebecers through French-language newspapers.

However, Barrette warns Quebecers to think twice before making the drive south.

He said the company is preying on people's fears about the state of their health.

"This is, to me, totally unacceptable. It's clearly, clearly, a commercial bias. There's no medicine. You are not being investigated," said Barrette in an interview with CBC.

"It is misleading. It is to make money, period. I do not recommend that to anybody."

Health Canada recommends people only seek diagnostic tests following a clinical evaluation and a referral from a doctor.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate McKenna is a journalist with CBC Montreal. Email her at kate.mckenna@cbc.ca.

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