Consumer Health Digest #17-11

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
March 12, 2017

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., with help from William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.

Burzynski disciplined again. The Texas Medical Board has reprimanded Stanislaw R. Burzynski, M.D. and placed him on 5 years probation. During this time, his practice will be monitored and he must take 72 hours of continuing education in informed consent, medical recordkeeping, risk management, supervision and delegation, and patient communication. He is also required to submit his informed consent forms for review, devise an ownership interest disclosure form, pass the medical jurisprudence exam, and pay an administrative penalty of $40,000 and restitution of $20,000. The action was based on the findings of administrative law judges at the state office of administrative hearings (SOAH) that included (a) failure to provide informed consent to treatment plans, (b) failure to supervise research assistants who were not authorized to practice medicine, (c) unlicensed practice of medicine, (d) failure to disclose his ownership interest in the pharmacy that sold drugs to his patients, (e) improperly classifying a minor patient's death as a lesser adverse event for purposes of FDA reporting, and (f) failure to maintain adequate medical records to support charges. Experts who have followed the proceedings closely have expressed disappointment that Burzynski's license was not revoked. Burzuynski is best known for his questionable treatment with urine extracts that he calls "antineoplastons," but the SOAH proceedings focused on other matters. For additional details about his career, see:

pH Miracle Center doctor facing disciplinary action. The Osteopathic Medical Board of California has charged Bennie S. Johnson, D.O., with gross negligence, repeated negligence, and general unprofessional conduct in connection with his management of four patients at the pH Miracle Center. The center is owned and operated by Robert O. Young, an unlicensed man who obtained a naturopathic "degree" from a non-accredited correspondence school. In February 2016, Young was convicted of two counts of practicing medicine without a license. The accusation against Johnson states that he (a) failed to adequately evaluate, treat, and monitor the patients; (b) lacked the training needed to manage their care; and (c) should have consulted with or referred the patients to cancer specialists. Johnson and Young are facing a suit by Dawn Kali, who claims that her breast cancer progressed from stage I (localized and easily treatable) to stage IV (widely spread) because she followed Young's advice.

Questionable "cancer coach" criticized. Dr. Stephen Barrett has posted a report on Christopher Wark, who claims that he beat the odds against cancer by changing his diet and lifestyle and can teach people to do the same. Wark states that after undergoing surgery for colon cancer 14 years ago, he was advised to have chemotherapy but chose instead to modify his diet and take various dietary supplements. His current "cancer coaching program" includes negative views of standard care. [Barrett S. A skeptical look at Chris Wark and his "Healing Journey." Quackwatch, March 8, 2017]

Unlicensed Kentucky naturopath allegedly murdered by victim's husband. Juan Sanchez Gonzales, who operated the Natural Health Center for Integrative Medicine in Bowling Green, Kentucky was found shot to death at his clinic on March 3. The accused shooter, Omer Ahmetovic, had an active lawsuit alleging that Gonzalez had guaranteed he could cure Ahmetovic's wife (Fikreta Ibrisevic) of cancer. Press reports indicate that Ibrisevic was not helped by Gonzalez's treatment, got rapidly worse, and died on February 27. [Highland D. Man accused of killing doctor had sued him over cancer treatments. Bowling Green Daily News, March 10, 2017] Gonzalez's Web site describes him as a naturopathic doctor, iridologist, and master herbalist who is working towards a Ph.D. in integrative medicine. The documents posted on the site include "nutritional counseling," "doctor of naturopathy" and "master herbalist" diplomas from from the Trinity School of Natural Health (a nonaccredited correspondence school); "certification" from the American Naturopathic Medical Certification Board (which is not a recognized certification board); and a "ministerial license" issued to "Juan Gonzalez, Psc.D." by the Pastoral Medical Association (which has no legal standing to issue licenses). The lawsuit, filed by the couple in January, accuses Gonzalez and his clinic of negligence, lack of informed consent, practicing medicine without a license, and fraud related to his credentials.

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This page was posted on March 12, 2017.