Respectful Insolence

Ah, a lazy Saturday morning. So here I am in the late morning, perusing my e-mail (including e-mail notifications of blog posts) after purposely not having checked them at all last night (and, in fact, even having gone to see a movie for the first time in many months), and what should a reader send me but a bit of very good news:

RALEIGH –A panel of the N.C. Medical Board recommended Thursday that Huntersville’s Dr. Rashid Buttar be prohibited from treating children or patients with cancer because his alternative medicine practice is below accepted medical standards in North Carolina.

The panel’s recommendation, which came after two days of testimony in a public hearing, now goes to the full board, which is expected to make a final decision in July.

Buttar, whose unconventional therapies include intravenous infusions of multiple chemicals, vitamins and minerals, accused the board of conducting a “witch hunt” and vowed to “do everything in my power to protect my patients.”

The panel also found that Buttar exploited patients by charging exorbitant fees for unproven therapies that didn’t work. The panel recommended that his license be suspended indefinitely, but that the suspension be immediately stayed. Until the board decides, Buttar may practice without restrictions.

This is the same medical board that Dr. Buttar had previously characterized as a “rabid dog.” Sadly, most medical boards are more like pampered lap dogs who are afraid to do what needs to be done to protect the public from doctors like Buttar. Here’s hoping that this rabid dog finally bites Rashid buttar.

Of course, I’m under no illusion that this is the last of this case. Buttar has lots and lots of money, thanks to his selling dubious treatments such as “transdermal chelation” for autism, something for which he was utterly unable to demonstrate that the drug was even absorbed through the skin and questions about which he dodged and weaved when pressed, and his even more dubious cancer “therapies.” Now that I think of it, Buttar is widely known for exceedingly dubious treatments for autism, and I’m very disappointed that the Board didn’t go after him for that as well as his cancer quackery. On the other hand, it did also forbid him from treating children, which would really put a crimp in his treating of autistic children. Maybe he could make it up by treating adult autistics (you know, the ones that the mercury militia claims do not exist). In fact, now that I think of it, I’m even more disappointed that the Board didn’t strip him of his medical license altogether.

So what sort of defense can Buttar offer? This:

During his four hours of testimony Thursday, Buttar, 42, disputed the board’s allegation that his therapies do not meet the standard of care in North Carolina. “It’s not the standard of care,” he said. “It’s beyond the standard of care.”

In response to criticism about prescribing weeks of intravenous infusions for three advanced cancer patients, Buttar explained he doesn’t treat cancer, but rather the conditions that allow cancer to thrive. He said he uses treatments to remove excess heavy metals and to boost the immune system.

Yep, all cancer, it would appear, is due to heavy metal poisoning and some unspecified “immune system” problem. One of the Board members hit it right on the head:

“Doesn’t it strike you as a little strange that every patient that comes through your door has heavy metal toxicity?” Dr. Art McCulloch, a Charlotte anesthesiologist, asked Buttar’s nurse practitioner, Jane Garcia.

I assume that Dr. McColloch’s question was rhetorical, because it’s not strange at all. One of the cardinal signs of quackery is a strong tendency to give every patient the same diagnosis and to offer the same dubious “therapy” to fix that diagnosis. Look at Hulda Clark, for instance. To her, all cancer is caused by a liver fluke. Hulda Clark, Rashid Buttar, what’s the difference.

None at all, other than that Buttar has a medical degree.

Although Dr. Buttar’s deep pockets, filled with money from patients from whom he’s taken many thousands of dollars but offered nothing more than snake oil (and that’s actually an insult to snake oil) could eventually prevail and although the Board didn’t go far enough and strip Buttar of his medical license, we boosters of science- and evidence-based medicine have to take our little victories as they come. In Dr. Buttar’s honor, after I finish writing this and responding to the rest of my e-mail, I plan on going out into our back yard to pick up dog poop. It’s been two weeks since I last did it, and our dog is not a small dog. I realize that my task will be far less unpleasant than the task that the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners has just undertaken, but it’s the best I can do on a Saturday.

I can’t think of a better analogy to Dr. Buttar’s being disciplined than that. The problem is that it’s too good an analogy. No matter how much dog poop I pick up and how often I do it, our dog always makes more, and I have to do it again. Once Buttar is gone from the medical scene, there will always be more like him to take his place.

Comments

  1. #1 daedalus2u
    April 26, 2008

    It must be refreshing to do something useful to purify yourself after writing about Dr. Buttar. Something to cleanse the mind for more rewarding pursuits.

  2. #2 Ms. Clark
    April 26, 2008

    Let’s see, how many autistic kids have been “cured” by Buttar’s magic TD-DMPS (transdermal dmps) lotion, the stuff that smells about as bad as dog poop and isn’t “transdermal” and doesn’t chelate anything? I’ve seen testimonials where parents have said wonderful things about it, which says a whole lot about the psychology of snake oil and charlatanism in the community of autism “biomed” parents, who are usually also antivaxers and total suckers for any “cure” offered to them.

    Who is one of the better known promoters of Buttar’s TD-DMPS? Uhm, how about JB Handley, the guy with the messianic complex and the arch- “rescue angel”. He’s one of Jenny McCarthy’s bestest friends now, she promotes his “Generation Rescue” a lot these days. Who else is a big promoter of Buttar? Well, how about David Kirby’s book, “Evidence of Snake Oil”? Oh, and how about Pat and pat of the Pat pat Show Blog? Pat (and pat) have a particular dislike for me and for Orac, too, as I remember. So I’m taking time out to say, Pat (and pat) Sullivan, you ought to be ashamed of yourselves. I doubt they will be, but they are such “nice” men, maybe they’ll try to reimburse all the people whom the encouraged to use Buttar’s TD-DMPS.

    Let’s see who would be good to see get justice next? The Geiers… maybe that’s happening now. I hear Dr. Geier’s being investigated by the Maryland Medical Board….

    Then Amy Yasko and Garry Gordon, maybe? Garry Gordon could get tangled in with the Abubakar Tariq Nadama (child)slaughter case. Since Gordon sold Kerry the disodium EDTA to Kerry.

    I’m not sure what JB Handley would do if Amy Yasko PhD got in trouble… she’s he new bestest “doctor” friend. He loves her yeasty “RNA” drops, they can cure everything, don’t you know? Nothing has cured Handley’s kid, but he’s still putting faith in the insane therapies sold by these many autism snake-oil peddlers.

    I’m waiting for JB to announce that his kid actually has a mitochondrial disorder like all the popular parents do these days.

  3. #3 Ms. Clark
    April 26, 2008

    Oh, and in case people haven’t followed Buttar’s illustrious career, this is the guy who gave urine injections to autistic children for their “allergies”. “Filtered urine” and their own, though I don’t know if it’s any sicker to get someone else’s filtered urine injected into one, than it is to get one’s own….

  4. #4 notmercury
    April 26, 2008

    Don’t forget Kevin Champaign Kim and Bailey Dabney, though no one sent more unsuspecting parents to Buttar and his useless TD-DMPS than JB Handley of Swander Pace.

  5. #5 Narc
    April 26, 2008

    …accused the board of conducting a “witch hunt”…

    Oh great, so not only is he a perpetrator of woo to the vulnerable, but he’s a witch, too?

  6. #6 HCN
    April 27, 2008

    Funny, I could not find much on the blog of a Buttar fan about this. You all remember the Pat Pat Sullivan show:
    http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2007/08/your_friday_dose_of_woo_eneman_answers_p_1.php

    “Perhaps I could send EneMan to pay a visit to Pat Sullivan, Jr., who has been drowning the comments section of posts here and here with his verbiage, most of which consists of regurgitating Dr. Buttar’s claims that his “transdermal” chelation system is a successful “biologic” treatment for autism while making laughably lame excuses for why Buttar hasn’t yet done some very simple tests to show that his concoction actually is absorbed through the skin and gets into the blood to, oh, actually chelate mercury, as he claims, and the rest of which seem to involve claiming that Dr. Buttar doesn’t need to prove that his concoction chelates anything because he has “empiric evidence” that it works.”

  7. #7 SLC
    April 27, 2008

    My question is why isn’t this piece of filth in jail?

  8. #8 chris
    April 27, 2008

    Buttar… vowed to “do everything in my power to protect my patients.”

    No, “Dr.” Buttar, it’s the board that is trying to protect your patients. From you.

  9. #9 Ruth
    April 27, 2008

    Check out the latest on Neurodiversity-Boyd Haley’s friend Stoller is promting a chelator for cats that (nudge, nudge) could be given to autistic kids, off-label and everything. Kathleen is back blogging, better than ever.

  10. #10 Prometheus
    April 27, 2008

    “Doesn’t it strike you as a little strange that every patient that comes through your door has heavy metal toxicity?” Dr. Art McCulloch, a Charlotte anesthesiologist, asked Buttar’s nurse practitioner, Jane Garcia.

    Nope. To the man whose only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

    Buttar has the money to fight this all the way to the NC Supreme Court, and he may even win. But on the way, he’ll have to expose his “therapies” to the light of day. It will be fascinating to see how he rationalizes them when he’s not among his adoring fans.

    Orac, I thought that your analogy of picking up the dog poop was perfect – depressing, but perfect. It’s a duty that many of us in the non-alternative medicine/science world have taken very seriously. I may not own a dog (speaking analogously), but if I don’t pick up the dog poop in my lawn, it just piles up to the point where my lawn becomes a hazard to all who walk on it.

    Unfortunately, as you said, the job isn’t done when we’ve picked up the lawn once, since more dogs are on their way. I have likened it to a sociological game of “Whack-a-Mole”. No matter how many “moles” you “whack”, another one always pops up. What we need is the Thermonuclear Mole-Whacker – which is what the Medical Boards are supposed to be, if they could ever get enough support from the legislatures.

    Bravo for the North Carolina medical board! They have taken a tiny – if brave – step toward cleaning up the mess that the medical community has become. As with my front lawn, it only takes a relatively small amount of dog poop to make it an unpleasant and hazardous place to walk.

    Trying to make the world a better place, one pile of poop at a time,

    Prometheus
    /analogy

  11. #11 The Integral
    April 27, 2008

    I’m very skeptical that the NC Medical Board did “all they could”….what prevented them from, as you said, stripping him of his license?

    I think one major, major problem with a lot of legal stuff…….is that money has far too much of an influence on people. This nut could buy his way out of any sanctions, or so it seems.

    I don’t profess to comprehend, at all, how the medical board deals with legal issues. I’d like to know more.

    But here’s an idea:

    how about…….if malpractice/gross negligence/quackery is suspected, the defendant must have his or her license suspended, pending a thorough investigation. Not suspended as in……you have to pay money to have the suspension taken off, but the equivalent of “life without parole” (no chance to get rid of suspension while investigation is underway)

    of course………the case has to be reasonable…..to begin with. But suspected/known quackery is certainly reasonable…….to pursue that kind of legal action.

    So…….pardon my longwindedness, but what prevented the North Carolina medical board from taking the very action I have described above?

    Please write responses in a manner in which a person very ignorant of medical legal issues can understand, because that’s just the type of person I am. I’m not ashamed to say so point-blank.

    The Integral of athenivanidx

  12. #12 DLC
    April 27, 2008

    I’m no expert on NC law, but Buttar could be sued for negligent injury to his patients, or even in a class-action suit on behalf of all those he has injured.
    getting his license yanked is a good first step to putting him out of business. There is also some possibility of criminal penalties. One can only hope. Quacks like this SOB need hammered.

  13. #13 Ms. Clark
    April 28, 2008

    I wonder if Buttar is still listed as one of the heroes of autism on JB Handley’s “Generation Rescue” website.

    It’ll be funny if Buttar is ever removed, maybe funnier if JB is too afraid to take Buttar off the heroes list.

    I also wonder if David Kirby will do a big old mea culpa on Huffpoof. He could say, “I’m sorry to all the parents who I encouraged to try the non-chelator TD-DMPS on their children, and I’m sorry for all the money they wasted on this stuff and on the very expensive visits to see Dr. Buttar.”

    I always thought of Buttar and his useless Buttar-creme as a mixed blessing… parents proved the placebo-by-proxy a hundred times over when they went on various Yahoo! groups breathlessly exclaiming that little Micky is
    ‘now speaking his first words and we only just put this stuff on him an hour ago…. Micky’s first words were, “Get that stuff of me it stinks to high heavens!!!” We’re so proud. Thank you Dr. Buttar!!!!’

    And with all the push for chelating based on nonsense lab tests, for every kid whose parent chose to put him only on the TD-DMPS that’s a kid who wasn’t getting dangerous and painful forms of chelation (like was given to Abubakar and that killed him).

    Of course, there are those who started off on TD-DMPS and then later were abused with other not so harmless treatments, but one can hope that many children were spared some harm.

    It’s the same thing with JB Handley’s other fave, Amy Yasko’s “RNA” drops. She’s ripping people off with them and misleading them about what this stuff can do, but at least it’s harmless in itself. I can’t say that about the meB12 shots and many of the other popular “biomuddled” treatments and cures for autism.

  14. #14 Deep Thoughts By JB Handley
    April 28, 2008

    So can we take away from this that Butter is viewed as a criminal by his “peers” (real docs all over are cringing at the comparison). One has to wonder if Generation Rescue’s JB Handley, who has fought to have quackery accepted by the masses, and who has supported Butter from the early days – remember Handjob’s “orange sh$t” claims – is crawling back under his rock upon hearing this news?

    No cure here folks. Just smelly snake oil.

    Dr. Amy is in on deck.

  15. #15 Kelly
    April 28, 2008

    I don’t understand the point of suspending his license if they don’t actually…y’know…suspend it!?

    The panel recommended that his license be suspended indefinitely, but that the suspension be immediately stayed.

    Why would they do this? I’m not familiar with this process, was there an appeal, is this in anticipation of an appeal?

  16. #16 Tlazolteotl
    April 28, 2008

    I wonder if others won’t claim this is yet another case of a doc being ‘persecuted’ by ‘big pharma’ or ‘big medicine.’

  17. #17 Ambulance Doctor
    May 16, 2008

    I do not understand one thing… If Dr. Buttar is a rat and does nothing, why he is so popular and people used to pay a lot for his services?

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