Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The Continuing Fall of the House of Geier

Most of you no doubt know the names of Dr. Mark Geier and his son, David Geier. I've written about them a fair bit, starting with the suspension of Mark Geier's medical license in Maryland and following the saga as his licenses in various states were suspended and, eventually, permanently revoked. Mark and David are the duo who came up with what came to be known as the Lupron Protocol to supposedly treat autism. Following on the mistaken notion that thimerosal in vaccines causes autism, they developed their idea after reading a single study from 1968 finding that, when dissolving testosterone and mercuric chloride in hot benzene, the testosterone and mercury compound bind together. Ignoring the fact that living beings are not in the habit of having a hot benzene environment inside them, the Geiers coupled this testosterone-mercury complex idea with research finding that autism may be linked, in some cases, to high levels of testosterone. Needless to say, their protocol not only didn't work, but it put children at increased risk for no benefit. And to make things worse, since Lupron is not approved for the treatment of autism, Dr. Geier "diagnosed" his patients with precocious puberty so he could charge it to insurance companies.

At any rate, Mark Geier's medical career is pretty much shot. But I always wondered what, if anything, would happen to those who worked at his numerous, nationwide clinics? Would any of them be held accountable? It looks like at least one of Geier's partners is not faring too well, either.

Dr. John Ling Young is trained in obstetrics and gynecology. He served as a coinvestigator on Dr. Geier's Lupron Protocol research, and was a member of the Geiers' unethical IRB. In 2009, he was nominated by Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley (who also appointed the unqualified David Geier to the state's Autism Commission, also in 2009) to the University System of Maryland Board of Regents. He first received a license to practice medicine in Maryland on February 15, 1979, but as of February 13, 2013, that license was suspended, as reported by the Baltimore Sun.

According to the suspension order for Dr. Young, following the April 2011 suspension of Dr. Geier's license, in August of the same year Dr. Young applied for a permit to dispense prescription drugs (e.g., Lupron). After some concerns were raised about Young's prescribing practices, the Maryland Board of Physicians subpoenaed his claims for reimbursement from 2009 to January 2012. This revealed that Dr. Young had dispensed Lupron or its generic equivalent, luprolide, starting in February 2011, six months before he applied for his permit and seven months before he received it. The investigation further uncovered that after Dr. Geier lost his license, he directed Dr. Young to treat his patients, dispensing prescriptions based on Dr. Geier's recommendations.

As part of their investigation into Dr. Young's prescribing practices, the Board also subpoenaed the medical records of fifteen of the patients whose names appeared on the list of claims for reimbursement. None of those patients resided in Maryland, so his treatment of those patients violates Maryland's telemedicine regulations. But that's not the worst of it, by any means. Reading the accounts of his care (if it can even be called that) of nine of these patients, I was appalled. In most of the cases, the patients did not have any condition for which Lupron is indicated (several patients were much older than the age range for a diagnosis of precocious puberty), let alone an autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Young wrote prescriptions for Lupron without evaluating the patients. He increased their dosages without noting any rationale for doing so, and in some cases he even admits that he did not review the patient's lab results. He seldom had any communication with the patients or their parents. In a couple cases, he wrote Lupron prescriptions for patients before they were even assessed by Dr. Geier.

It is little wonder that the Maryland Board summarily suspended Dr. John Young's license. But what about his licenses in other states? The suspension order notes that Dr. Young is also licensed in: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Pennsylvania and Washington. He also has inactive licenses in California, Virginia and the District of Columbia. What is the status of these licenses?
  • California - Expired July 31, 2012. The Maryland suspension is listed under Public Record Actions.
  • District of Columbia - Expired.
  • Florida - Currently active through January 31, 2015. He has not reported any disciplinary actions.
  • Illinois - Currently active through July 31, 2014. He has not reported any disciplinary actions.
  • Indiana - Currently active through June 30, 2013. He has not reported any disciplinary actions.
  • Kentucky - Expired February 28, 2013.
  • Missouri - Currently active through January 31, 2014. Notes that disciplinary action has been taken in another state.
  • Pennsylvania - Inactive. Expired December 31, 2012. No disciplinary actions are noted.
  • Texas - Had a license that Expired August 31, 2011 and was cancelled due to nonpayment September 6, 2012.
  • Virginia - Unable to find any license for Dr. Young.
  • Washington - The board investigated him and found him in violation of regulations. He entered into an agreement on Feb. 7, 2013 that he would not renew his license after it expires in July of 2013, and that he will not apply for a new license after the renewal period. He also agreed not to treat any patients residing in Washington for the remainder of his active license. He must also pay a penalty of $5,000.
I wonder if, like Dr. Geier before him, Dr. Young will see his licenses fall like dominoes.
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  1. I hope Illinois will take a hard look at Mayer Eisenstein, another Geier partner in the Lupron catastrophe.

  2. I second SM's wish and thank you, Todd for covering this delightful and much overdue demise of the House of Geier so thoroughly!

  3. Illinois is not a particularly woo-friendly state; we don't appear to have the enclaves of crunchies that other states such as California and Arizona do. We also don't license acupuncturist or homeopaths.

    But Illinois is also flat broke. I wouldn't count on anything happening to Eisenstein anytime soon (unless, of course, somebody dies).


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