Consumer Health Digest #19-28

Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
July 14, 2019

Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by William M. London, Ed.D., M.P.H., with help from Stephen Barrett, M.D. 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. Its primary focus is on health, but occasionally it includes non-health scams and practical tips.

"Anti-aging" physician loses license. The Kansas Board of the Healing Arts has revoked the license of Michael R. Simmons, M.D., who operated three clinics in Kansas. In March, the board issued an emergency suspension after concluding that he was "not currently safe to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety." The explanation for the suspension provided in the public version of the board's order is heavily redacted, but in April, the Kansas City Star reported that the suspension came after a team of evaluators at a behavioral health and addiction treatment center said that Simmons could not safely practice medicine. [Marso A. JoCo doctor sues Kansas medical board over emergency license suspension. Kansas City Star, April 2, 2019] Simmons sued the board about how that determination was reached, but later decided to surrender his license, making the suit moot. Simmons did business as the Simmons Medical Clinic, P.A., and Center for Health & Wellness. In 2016, the clinic Web sites described his background this way:

Dr. Michael Simmons has been a practicing family physician in this area since 1994. He provides some of the most innovative advances in functional and anti-aging medicine, and is board-certified in anti-aging medicine with the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine and the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine in Chicago. Dr. Simmons is pursuing a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine and operates three medical health and wellness facilities. Patients travel from all over the United States for his innovative and progressive approach to healthcare.

At that time, the questionable treatments offered at Simmons's clinics included Myers' cocktails and other intravenous therapy for acute infections, healing wounds, immune-boosting prior to surgery or travel, Lyme disease, acute and chronic asthma, allergies, muscle spasms, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, Parkinson's disease, and several other conditions. The clinics also also offered "bioidentical hormone therapy" and weight-loss programs centered around the use of human growth hormone.

In 2002, after the Kansas board determined that Simmons had had sexual relationships with two of his patients and a nurse he had worked with, Simmons agreed to a consent order under which the Kansas Board censured him, fined him $5,000, suspended his license for 30 days, and required him to take a course on maintaining proper boundaries.

Simmons also was licensed and operated a clinic in Missouri. In 2015, Missouri's medical board filed a complaint that charged Simmons with improperly administering and distributing testosterone without a controlled substance registration in that state. The board's Web site reports no subsequent disciplinary action, but his Missouri license expired in 2018. Simmons still has an Oklahoma license that is set to expire at the end of this year.

A 2018 TEDx talk by Simmons, "The Physician Inside of You," available on YouTube comes with this disclaimer by TED:

We've flagged this talk, which was filmed at a TEDx event, because it appears to fall outside TEDx's curatorial guidelines. The sweeping claims and assertions made in this talk only represent the views of the speaker. While some viewers might find advice provided in this talk to be helpful as a complementary approach, please do not look to this talk for medical advice. TEDx events are independently organized by volunteers. The guidelines we give TEDx organizers are described in more detail here:

Chiropractors settle over peripheral neuropathy false claims. Brothers Ryan Schell and Tyler Schell and their former Lenexa, Kansas clinic, Kansas City Health and Wellness Clinic, P.A., have agreed to pay $350,000 to the United States to settle allegations they submitted false claims to Medicare in violation of the False Claims Act. The United States had alleged that the brothers claimed they provided treatments for peripheral neuropathy and charged Medicare for procedures that were not medically necessary, not actually provided, or not covered by the program. The claimed procedures included nerve conduction tests, nerve block injections, ultrasound needle guidance and the purported use of vasopneumatic devices. The complaint filed by the United States alleged:

[Kansas chiropractors pay $350,000 to settle false claim allegations. U.S. Attorney's Office District of Kansas news release. July 9, 2019]

France will stop paying for homeopathy. The French Government has announced that it will stop reimbursing patients for homeopathy treatment beginning in 2021. In June, France's National Authority for Health (HAS) concluded that it had "not scientifically demonstrated sufficient effectiveness to justify a reimbursement." [Agence France-Presse in Paris. France to stop reimbursing patients for homeopathy. The Guardian. Jul 10, 2019] The HAS conclusion was preceded by a joint report from France's Academy of Medicine and Academy of Pharmacy issued in March along with a joint statement to the press that declared: "No homeopathic preparation should be reimbursed by Assurance Maladie [France's health insurance] until the demonstration of sufficient medical benefit has been provided. No university degree in homeopathy should be issued by medical or pharmaceutical faculties." Reacting to Frances's decision, Steven Novella, M.D. blogged:

Homeopathy remains a giant scam on the public with essentially zero plausibility and copious evidence for lack of efficacy. Governments around the world are moving in the right direction, but not nearly enough. We need to keep the pressure on, and keep educating the public about what homeopathy actually is, i.e. nothing. [Novella, S. France to end reimbursement for homeopathy. Science-Based Medicine. July 10, 2019]

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This page was posted on July 14, 2019.