Christian Wellness Kills Patients

The Wall Street Journal reports on “Christian Wellness” which hides behind religion to sell their modern snake oil. They report, “Sales by religiously affiliated companies have surged since the mid-1990s to account for 5% to 10% of the dietary-supplements business, which had about $21 billion in 2005 sales, says Grant Ferrier, editor of Nutrition Business Journal in San Diego.”

Just as there are far too many people who ignore basic biology and believe the religious arguments against evolution, many will ignore medical science to use unproven remedies based upon their religious faith:

The products are heavily promoted on religious TV, radio and Web sites through ads featuring testimonials akin to those that evangelicals share in church services. “Rather than sending money to the guy on TV who promised to heal you, you now can send your money for a book on diet and a list of supplements,” says Donal O’Mathuna, a chemist and co-author of a book on alternative medicine.

Federal authorities are investigating:

Federal authorities have identified at least three dozen people who drank Dr. Daniel’s mixtures, says a person familiar with the matter. Among those, at least eight people died of cancer, according to a Food and Drug Administration investigator’s affidavit. Some patients bypassed conventional therapies for Dr. Daniel’s regimen, according to the affidavit, patients and family members…

According to the FDA investigator’s affidavit, on a 2002 religious broadcast Dr. Daniel touted cancer cure rates of 60% or better. In an interview with the California Medical Board, she denied making that claim, the affidavit said. It said she acknowledged selling vitamin mixtures but said they had no regulated ingredients. A prosecutor said there’s no evidence she’s still selling the products.

Former patients and the affidavit say Dr. Daniel sold at least six different liquid formulas. FDA analysis found some of the formulas contained various herbal compounds, as well as protein powder, vitamins, alcohol, and beef extract. Some patients said they paid as much as $6,000 weekly for care at Dr. Daniel’s wellness clinic, while others report paying a similar amount for a monthly supply of her mixtures. For some patients, office visits were covered by their medical insurance.

The FDA is looking into allegations that Dr. Daniel violated federal law by introducing an unapproved drug into the market, misbranding a drug, and committing mail and wire fraud, the affidavit says. Prosecutors filed the affidavit under seal in U.S. District Court Los Angeles in January 2006 to obtain a search warrant of Dr. Daniel’s home and office. “There is nothing wrong with a medical doctor claiming that they can cure someone,” said lead prosecutor Joseph O. Johns, an assistant U.S. attorney. “What is illegal is selling an unapproved new drug and claiming that it can cure cancer.” A federal grand jury has heard testimony in the case, say lawyers for a witness and for Dr. Daniel, who both testified last year.

The full article is under the fold. (more…)