Rashid Buttar And the Autism Industry

17 Jun

Its a few days short of a year since I wrote my original piece on Rashid Buttar – a piece that drew equal amounts of amusement and hostility depending on one’s viewpoint. I received many comments regarding how nasty I was to a poor, dedicated doctor and so I thought it fit to take another look at Dr Buttar and re-examine some of my comments and look at some things I didn’t previously look closely at.

TDDMPS Revisited

In my previous posts I was skeptical of the efficacy of Buttar’s TD-DMPS product, however I noted that Buttar had stated that:

In a study due to be released by the winter of 2004, conclusive data was accumulated regarding the efficacy of a specifically formulated transdermally applied combination of DMPS conjugated with a number of peptides, called TD-DMPS

And yet, a search of PubMed still – 18 months after the stated release date – reveals _no_ such study. If anyone has a copy of this elusive study I would love to see it.

Interestingly, as I (and Orac) also reported, Dr Buttar seems to be moving away from TD-DMPS, once lauded as the holy grail of autism treatments, in favour of an IV EDTA protocol. The reader can make up his or her own mind about why that might be.

Rashid Buttar: Man Of Letters

Rashid Buttar has an impressive amount of letters after his name and an equally impressive amount of fellowships and board certifications on his CV.

Fellow – American Academy of Preventative Medicine
Fellow – American College for Advancement in Medicine
Diplomat – American Academy of Preventative Medicine
Diplomat – American Board of Chelation Therapy
Board Eligib – Board Certification in Emergency Medicine
Diplomat – American Board of Clinical Metal Toxicology
Diplomat – American Association of Integrative Medicine
Diplomay Candidate – Board Certification in Emergency Medicine
Diplomat Candidate – American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine
Member – National Metals Task Force
Member – American Association of Physician Specialists
Member – International College of Integrative Medicine
Member – International Hyperbaric Medical Association
Member – International Hyperbaric Medical Association Foundation

Wow! Thats pretty impressive. Until we actually look a little closer.

In the US, its the American Board of Medical Specialities who oversee which boards are legitimate and which are not. They have a full list of accepted board certifications online. Of the ten individual associations listed as being ‘American’ or ‘national’ above, *only one – the American Board of Emergency Medicine – is recognised* and this is one that Buttar lists himself as simply being eligible for, not a member, diplomat or fellow of.

So the ‘veneer of respectability’ Rashid Buttar has constructed for himself reveals itself as not in anyway officially recognised. Is such official recognition important? I guess that would depend on who you asked. If you asked autism/thiomersal believers then its not important at all. they would say that such omissions reflect the ongoing conspiracy to ensure only mainstream medicine keeps itself in business by excluding pioneering mavericks like Rashid Buttar. If you asked everyone else they’d probably say it was important because recognised board certification reflects the fact that a member, diplomat or fellow has a certain, scientifically valid level of expertise within a given subject. Or that a given subject is recognised to have a beneficial effect. There is a lengthy document explaining what a medical specialty has to do to gain ABMS approval.

Boards not recognised by ABMS are self appointed and thus free to offer membership based on whatever criteria they see fit.

I did note that there were a few certifications Dr Buttar has missed out on – however he can easily rectify that situation with certification that is as equally – if not more – credible as his current certification.

Rashid Buttar: Man of Science

One of the most intriguing statements on Rashid Buttar’s CV is this:

Visiting Scientist, North Carolina State University

So I popped along to NCSU to have a look and sure enough, Rashid Buttar is listed in his role as ‘visiting scientist. However, what his CV fails to mention is that his chosen specialty is ‘Food Science’, a science that up until now I’d never heard of. Luckily, NCSU have a handy page that defines it for me:

Food Science is what happens to food from the time it’s harvested (or from it’s beginning in a lab) until you swallow it

I think we can all see just how vital this sort of science would be in autism research. Why do I get the feeling that at some point we’ll be seeing the emergence of Buttar Bread? Tasty and Gluten Free!!

Rashid Buttar: Crusading Maverick

In an amusing piece of one-sided propaganda, Rashid Buttar is portrayed as a poor, hard done by hero:

Buttar and eight other integrative doctors from across the state decided they’d had enough. They formed the North Carolina Integrative Medical Society and hired their own lobbyist to work on changing state law. At an April press conference attended by a mere three members of the media, plus lawyers for the medical board and members of the medical society, Buttar’s hand shook as he blistered the medical board for the way it treated integrative doctors.

Two weeks after Buttar’s blistering testimony at the legislature, a letter arrived in the mail from the medical board inviting him and his attorney to appear before the board to answer questions about his practice of medicine and advising him that his rights would be read to him when he appeared. When Buttar declined the invitation, the board subpoenaed him to appear before them.

After two years of harassment and $20,000 in legal fees, Buttar emerged from the hearing poorer but with his clean record intact.

Poor Rashid couldn’t quite seem to grasp why he and his fellow ‘integrative practitioners’ should have to answer to medical authorities like everyone else. And how about that $20,000 legal fee? Ouch.

Rashid Buttar: Fairly Recompensed?

So there’s our hero, 20 grand out of pocket. What does a crusading maverick with an interest in picking food and invented board certifications do? Why he starts getting some money of course! He either set up or joined V-SAB medical labs, which is again listed on his ‘autism buster’ CV….except that just like his ‘visiting scientist’ status, this position doesn’t seem to have much to do with autism. Chemidex lists V-SAB under _’Personal Care & Cosmetics’_ . Go figure.

He has also established ‘Advanced Medical Education & Services Physician Association’ (AMESPA), which is essentially a training facility to allow other practitioners to learn at the feet of Rashid Buttar all the secrets he knows to cure autism, cancer and reverse old age. For this service he charges $20,000 for a five day course. Coincidentally the same amount as two years worth of legal fees when being investigated by North Carolina health authorities. Dr Buttar has no less than 15 testimonials on his site from satisfied practitioners. Thats a cool $300,000 – but not to worry, I’m sure those practitioners will easily recoup their investment from their patients – the autism industry is a growing one after all!

But Buttar hasn’t forgotten his patients. Oh no.

Rashid Buttar: Caring and Sharing

While Dr. Buttar….is also one of those practitioners who receives a lot of complaints. In my opinion, Dr. Buttar’s latest chelation protocol is too invasive and risky. His rates are obscene, too.

(Autism-Mercury Yahoo Group)

Obscene rates? Surely not! Lets take a further look.

Dr. Buttar is asking for $800 for consultation fee (1 hr max) on his Dallas conference on June 16th-17th. I fell off my chair when I heard it.

(‘dingwendy’ CK2 yahoo Group)

We started with Dr. Buttar and $20,000 out-of-pocket expenses later (yes,in a little over a year!)…

(‘plumbrok’ CK2 Yahoo Group)

Wait, $20,000 _in a year??_ Thats…what….the same amount as _two_ years worth of legal fees when being investigated by North Carolina – guess Buttar was easily able to get that money back.

‘plumbrok’ continued:

..he had an unusually strict set-up, as Tracy put it, “My way or the highway” – every supplement had to be purchased through his office and at the time we saw him, he would not accept any substitutes.

Well of course! Only his products = only his profits. This is not a stupid man. However, for that $800 per hour I bet these people get _great_ service!

I do want you to become aware Dr. Buttar treats Cancer and Heart Disease patients. It is his Nurse Practioner that handles all the Autism children and Dr. Buttar reviews the files each week. Very rarely do patients get to see Dr. Buttar. I understand he is trying to see new patients the first time they are in the office, but there is no guarantee as he travels around the country lecturing on various topics and may not be around.

(‘punkinsmama1999′ CK2 Yahoo Group)

Yes, Dr Buttar does not see a lot of his autism patients more than once but oversees the protocol.

(‘Susan Fund’ CK2 Yahoo Group)

So it seems that your $800 per hour gets you an hour with Buttar’s nurse and that you probably won’t get to see Buttat himself above once. It also transpires that to be on his protocol you must buy _all_ supplements from him and him alone. Is his reputation suffering?

Is he really reversing Alzheimer’s? I find that Dr. Buttar talks a lot but produces little evidence.

(‘noaholiviaian’ CK2 Yahoo Group)

The crown seems to be slipping.

Im sorry, but I cant help but to think that with such an outrageous hourly rate, it is praying on parents who are desperately seeking the comforting assurance of a medical practitioner….I know that most parents would willing cut off their own right hand if it would help their kids… and Dr. Buttar knows that as well.

(‘rheaton_stormcast’ CK2 Yahoo Group)

As touched on above, Dr Buttar also treats cancer. I made mention of this in my first blog post about Buttar and discusses his biggest fan – Cajun Cowboy – who had this to say about Dr Buttar:

He (Dr Buttar) told me that most of his patients were much worse off than I and that God had Blessed me by giving me a wake up call and that he could enable my body to heal itself! Now that is the first time I have ever heard a Doctor say he could enable my body to heal cancer.

So I thought I’d drop in on Cajun Cowboy’s site to see how things were going. I was a little surprised by what I found:

All the information about Dr. Buttar is still on this site but I no longer am one of his patients and I do not recommend him to any one for any reason. If you go to him for treatment BEWARE, BEWARE and read Roger Mason’s books first and go to QuackWatch.org first!

Seems like Cajun Cowboy has had something of a change of heart.

Now as far as Dr. Buttar goes read what is said about almost every modality that he practices at QuackWatch.org. Now I new (sic) what was on this site and I new (sic) you have to take it with a grain of salt but for me, most of their opinions concerning Dr. Buttar’s treatment may be true! What I can say for sure is that they did not work for me after over $150,000.00 dollars and two years of treatment!

$150,000 worth of ‘treatment’ that appears to have done nothing at all. Cajun Cowboy sounds quite bitter about the whole thing. Why for $150,000, Buttar could afford to be pursued over 7 times over 14 years by the North Carolina medical authorities and _still_ make a $10,000 profit.

Rashid Buttar: Living The American Dream

Business and free enterprise are the American ideals. On a much smaller scale we could easily equate the level of success Rashid Buttar has had with say a company like…oh I don’t know…Enron. They were successful for quiet some time.

Rashid Buttar is making a very very good living out of his autism cottage industry and so far he’s managed to do it on the back of some fake respectability generated from meaningless board certifications, without publishing any studies (despite repeated promises to do so) into the efficacy of his treatments and by charging people who consider themselves as desperate a lot of money for receiving an ‘interesting’ level of personal service. Along the way he’s keeping his friends sweet by teaching them his methods and is also getting a good slice of money from them too.

Wonder what things will be like a year from now?

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28 Responses to “Rashid Buttar And the Autism Industry”

  1. David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending) June 17, 2006 at 14:32 #

    *Very* troubling.

  2. Joseph June 17, 2006 at 14:45 #

    I wasn’t aware of most of this. I wonder if this is typical of DAN! doctors.

  3. Lisa June 17, 2006 at 14:46 #

    If this man is a licenced physician, than I would think his current state board would be interested in taking a fresh look at his practice in light of ethics violations, if not out and out malpractice. Thank you for shining a light on this man.

  4. Skeptico June 17, 2006 at 16:32 #

    Seriously good piece of work.

  5. Nana June 17, 2006 at 16:42 #

    hmmm. Buttar is no longer listed as a DAN doctor.

    Anyone can be a DAN “doctor” even if you’re not a MD. You can be a nurse practitioner, chiropractor, naturopath, nutritionist.

    The scary part about “alternative medicine” that most of these folks practice is that any disease can be treated with any medication. You can have heart disease and receive chelation therapy, or autism, or whatever the disease of the day .

    Just being old is a reason to get IV chelation…as a preventative.

    And chelation can be anything the doctor says it is…pills, creams, capsules, IV…it doesn’t matter as long as the doctor says it chelates the toxins out

    Whenever someone makes a complaint to the medical board about a doctor, there is a rally cry from the accused to all the patients to send letters, emails, testify before the board about how much better they feel after having the accused treat them, oh, and please send money for the defense fund for the unjustified attack against the wonderful doctor.

  6. Ian Parker June 17, 2006 at 18:28 #

    I think that you’re being a bit harsh towards Enron.

    Prior to its engaging in financial and accounting improprieties, Enron was a legitimate and respected provider of products and services to its customers, especially in the energy sector, with high levels of customer service and satisfaction.

  7. Tera June 17, 2006 at 19:04 #

    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dr. Rashid Buttar and Robert Tilton in the same room.

    Nice work, Kev.

  8. Orac June 17, 2006 at 20:40 #

    Nice work.

    You should mail a copy of this to Pat Sullivan. ;)

  9. Dad Of Cameron June 17, 2006 at 22:40 #

    Someone had a comment in a post of your’s a while back Kev, that apparently showed Buttar endorsing ‘gemstone therapy’ or some similar pseudo-science by writing a foreward to a book about it.

    Very nice work indeed, Kev.

  10. Bartholomew Cubbins June 18, 2006 at 00:50 #

    what about those urine injections?

    having stepped on a sea urchine before I can say that urine therapy isn’t something to take lightly, of course I don’t think that butter is peeing on anyone’s foot.

    /beach-autism humorinator disengaged

    seriously, Ms. Clark, are you trying to piss KC off?
    Bada boom crash!!!

  11. Ms Clark June 18, 2006 at 23:07 #

    BC,

    uhm, no. :-o

    Maybe we should start a pool to see which of the autism quacks gets sued or put in jail first? Several of them are way overdue.

  12. Kev June 19, 2006 at 06:53 #

    Thanks for the comments everyone – Ian made me laugh the most ;o)

    DoC – I think this is what you mean – he’s in the second set of bullets.

  13. M June 19, 2006 at 11:42 #

    Another thing about fellowships and memberships of organisations – they cost money. A medical relative of mine gave up about six letters after their name (from completely legit, recognised organisations here in the uk) because the membership fees were not worth the benefits they were getting (I think one of them had redefined itself away from their speciality as well). Why and how you get to be a member/fellow of these organisations (again, only talking about legit ones) varies between them.

  14. Nathzn June 20, 2006 at 11:47 #

    Very good work Kev keep it up. :)

    No wonder he can count on defense from merc-parents: They have to pay the risen fees for every time he gets sued!

  15. David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending) June 20, 2006 at 12:35 #

    Nathzn: “They have to pay the risen fees for every time he gets sued!”

    Only ones daft enough to pay them….

  16. Ann Brasher June 20, 2006 at 20:37 #

    You did not have permission to post anything from Chelatingkids 2. This breaks the rules of a private group.
    Please remove all references and names, immediately

    Ann
    Moderator ck2

  17. Kev June 20, 2006 at 22:26 #

    No thanks.

  18. Kev June 20, 2006 at 22:33 #

    Oh hey and Ann? Could you ask Wendy and Rita when they plan on retracting their utterly false accusations about Paul Shattuck?

  19. HN June 22, 2006 at 18:26 #

    clone3g said “Maybe KC will denounce Buttar in a year the way the Cowboy has. Probably not.”

    I’m sleep deprived today (sun came up too early… stupid solstice!), so I am avoiding work — which included spending lots of time reading the Autism Diva’s contribution to the Skeptic’s Circle… which lead to check out KC’s blog.

    Absolutely no updates on Buttar other than last February when he reported after 10 months things were going great (and the photos show a very young child who looks like he could be improving just due to time). The latest blog post is an article by some guy who died eighteen years ago:

    http://www.quackwatch.org/11Ind/mendelson.html

    (oh, th e Buttar update was http://autismreality.blogspot.com/2006/04/autism-and-10-months-into-dr-buttars.html … and Brian Hooker has interesting comments about you)

  20. David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending) June 22, 2006 at 21:58 #

    I looked on KC’s blog…. SueM, as usual, is being a presumptious bitch! “I believe that most there consider themselves ASD.”

    Um… obviously, she expects us to believe things that she cannot produce evidence for yet is unwilling to accept what we can actually prove… whether it’s the science or or diagnoses.

    I feel sad for her kids.

  21. clone3g June 22, 2006 at 22:10 #

    HN: and Brian Hooker has interesting comments about you

    Aw shucks. I would’ve enjoyed discussing science with him too had he actually presented any.

  22. Prometheus July 13, 2006 at 05:51 #

    Sorry to get here after the party’s ended, but I just had to add a few “clarifications” about Buttar’s CV:

    [1] He’s not “board eligible” for Emergency Medicine – anyone who graduated medical school after at least 1983 (and probably before – I just happen to have some solid data on that year) had to have completed a formal Emergency Medicine residency to be eligible for the boards. Buttar graduated in 1991. And he didn’t complete an Emergency Medicine residency.

    [2] Like Jeff Bradstreet, Buttar started a military residency (in surgery – Bradstreet’s was in OB/Gyn) but didn’t finish. The last year of a surgical residency is PGY 5, not PGY 3. I suspect that Buttar’s reason for going into “integrative medicine” is the same as Bradstreet’s – he couldn’t finish a real residency program.

    [3] Buttar gives the years of his surgical PGY 2 and PGY 3 years as 1992 – 1994; this overlaps with his one-year tour in Korea. There’s something fishy here, since a tour in Korea would not count as a surgical residency year. A brigade “surgeon” is no more than a general practitioner – “surgeon” is military for “doctor”.

    [4] Of all the “military honors/awards” he has listed, the only two that are true “awards” or “honors” are the Army Commendation Medal and the Army Achievement Medal. Both are commonly awarded to officers serving on one-year “hardship” tours, such as his tour in Korea (where he got them). I’ve got a couple myself, if he needs any more (but he can’t have my Bronze Star with “V” – I earned that).

    So, apart from lies, fluff and navel lint, his CV is empty. He and Jeff Bradstreet must be channeling the same mean spirit.

    Prometheus

  23. HN July 13, 2006 at 06:20 #

    Prometheus said “So, apart from lies, fluff and navel lint, his CV is empty. He and Jeff Bradstreet must be channeling the same mean spirit.”

    You mean the spirit that dictates “How much money can we scam out of desparate people”?

  24. mcguffin July 13, 2006 at 16:39 #

    ah, might that be the demented spirit of ELRON?

  25. Kev July 13, 2006 at 17:02 #

    Hubbard?

    See what I did there? ;o)

  26. David N. Andrews BA-status, PgCertSpEd (pending) July 15, 2006 at 11:16 #

    Old L Ron Hubbard
    Looked in his cupboard
    To find Rashid Buttar some juice…

    But in Rashid’s dream
    Was heavenly cream
    Heavenly, with no earthly use!

  27. DJ August 3, 2006 at 17:08 #

    Seemingly simple question:

    We have a family close to us with a son diagnosed with autism spectrum..

    The parents are suddenly emailing us all this information about how they’ve discovered links to thimerisol, looking into chelation, etc.

    WHERE to send them for a simple overview about how everything they are being exposed to is so much quackery?? One site, one simple FAQ or something, that simply lays out what mercury really does, what thimerisol really is, what chelation really does, how much the quacks benefit, etc. Since I’m not a doctor or medical specialist and I don’t have the credentials to walk in and tell them they are being misled, and since they’ve been fed all the lines about the mainstream medical conspiracy, etc., I don’t know where to point them to discover reality on their own. They are the typical loving parents who will do anything to help their kid and it’s just breaking my heart where all this is going.

    HELP!!!

  28. HN August 3, 2006 at 23:39 #

    Try http://www.autism-watch.org/

    and http://www.fda.gov/cber/vaccine/thimerosal.htm

    Plus, remeind them that thimersal was essentially removed from all pediatric vaccines almost 6 years ago. Remind them that a little boy died last year because he was being chelated.

    Also, they are finding out different genes cause autism in girls:

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14158295/

    Last but not least, the Autism Hub: http://www.autism-hub.co.uk/

    Edit to add: I’m am so sorry that I did not have just one website! But try with the first one.

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