Dr. Mark Geier is well known in the world of alternative medicine and autism. He, together with his son David, work a medical practice and publish papers. They are long-standing proponents of the vaccine-causation hypothesis, presenting pseudo-epidemiological studies as support. Dr. Geier has worked as a witness in the vaccine court, has has a long history of criticism for his work there.
One of the stranger notions Dr. Geier has put forth involves testosterone. In their model of autism, testosterone binds with mercury in the brain and makes it difficult to remove through chelation. For many, many reasons, this was just plain wrong. Based on their mistaken hypothesis, the Geiers have promoted a treatment for autism based on reducing testosterone in autistic children. In short, they put children on an injected drug: Lupron.
This idea has met with much criticism. Probably no one has studied the Geier’s and their actions more closely than Kathleen Seidel on her blog at Neurodiversity.com. Five years ago and more she exposed the “Lupron Protocol” in a sixteen partseries called
Well, it isn’t just one of the best bloggers saying it anymore. The Maryland Board of Physicians has investigated Dr. Geier and Dr. Geier has now had his license suspended.
Here is part of the Order for Summary Suspension:
The Respondent misdiagnosed autistic children with precocious puberty and other genetic abnormalities and treated them with potent hormonal therapy (“Lupron Therapy” or “Lupron Protocol”), and in some instances, chelation therapy, both of which have a substantial risk of both short-term and long-term adverse side effects. The Respondent’s treatment exposed the children to needless risk of harm.
The introduction goes on.
The Respondent, in addition to being a physician, is certified as a genetic counselor. His assessment and treatment of autistic children, as described herein, however, far exceeds his qualifications and expertise. The extensive and expensive batteries of laboratory studies the Respondent initially orders, many of which he orders to be repeated on a monthly basis, are outside the standard of quality care for a work-up for an autistic patient or to determine the underlying cause of autism. The Respondent failed to conduct adequate physical examinations of any of the patients and in several instances, began his Lupron Protocol based merely on a telephone consultation with the child’s parent and the results of selected laboratory tests he ordered. The Respondent’s omission of a comprehensive physical examination constitutes a danger because his treatment is based on a diagnosis that requires documentation of sexual development beyond that expected for the age of the child. Moreover, his treatment may constitute more of a risk to a child with an underlying medical condition.
The Respondent failed to provide adequate informed consent to the parents of the autistic children he treated. In one (1) instance, he misrepresented that his treatment protocol had been approved by a federally approved IRB.
There are no evidence-based studies to support either the Respondent’s Lupron Protocol or his administration of chelation therapy to autistic children; he relies in large part on his own studies which have been wholly discredited by the Institute of Medicine and denounced by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The Respondent’s treatment of autistic children with his Lupron Protocol and chelation therapy is not limited to Maryland. Indeed, in a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, the Respondent stated his intent to open clinics all over the United States, H[w]e plan to open everywhere. I am going to treat as many as I can.
The introduction ends with this paragraph:
The Respondent endangers autistic children and exploits their parents by administering to the children a treatment protocol that has a known substantial risk of serious harm and which is neither consistent with evidence-based medicine nor generally accepted in the relevant scientific community.
Pretty much sums it up. There are numerous counts and details listed in the full document. Below I’ll highlight some specific statements.
Patient A, a child whose mother stated aggression was not a problem, was reported as having aggression and self-injurious behaviors:
Notwithstanding Patient A’s mother’s report that aggression was not a problem with Patient A, the Respondent noted in the “Precious (sic) Puberty Evaluation” section of the form that Patient A, “bites and punches others; hits head with hands.”
As with many (if not all of the children) listed in the order, the diagnosis of precocious puberty was not considered valid:
45. The Respondent misdiagnosed Patient A with premature puberty. Significantly, Patient A did not meet the age criteria for premature puberty.
46. In addition, the results of Patient A’s laboratory studies do not support the Respondent’s diagnosis. The Respondent reported that Patient A’s testosterone metabolites were “significantly increased;” however, the results of Patient A’s luteinizing hormone (“LH”) were only marginally elevated, and his free testosterone and DHEA were within range for a ten (10) year old male.
One question that is often raised with alternative medical practitioners is the validity of their diagnoses. Quite often this involves diagnoses of “heavy metal toxicity” using non-standard tests. In the case of the Geier’s, there is also the validity of diagnoses of “precocious puberty”. There are standards for age, and for tests which should be performed. Reading the order, it is clear that age requirements were often ignored. Bone density tests were often not performed:
The Respondent failed to assess Patient B’s bone age, assess the child’s growth velocity or order a GnRH test to confirm the presumptive diagnosis of precocious puberty.
Also, the signs of precocious puberty could be due to a brain tumor. Yet brain scans were not performed. This from Patient E:
In addition, the Respondent failed to assess Patient E’s skeletal maturation by ordering an x-ray of her left wrist and he failed to order a scan of her brain in order to rule out a tumor.
Another question that often comes up with the Geier practice is what role David Geier plays. David Geier holds only a bachelor’s degree. He is not a physician. Patient C appears to have been examined by David Geier, with Dr. Mark Geier absent:
Patient C’s mother returned to the Respondent’s office on May 19, 2008 because of the worsening of Patient C’s aggressive behaviors. According to her complaint, the Respondent was not present during this office visit, She saw only his unlicensed son.
And, yet, the child was given “comprehensive” abdominal and thyroid ultrasounds at the visit:
The note of the visit indicates that “comprehensive” abdominal and thyroid ultrasounds were performed. Patient C’s physical appearance is described as suggesting “advancement from his chronological age” and that he appeared to be “potentially significantly physically aggressive to himself and/or others.”
and something akin to a diagnosis was rendered:
A portion of the “Psychological Examination” section of the note states, “It is apparent based upon examination of the DSM-IV criteria that [Patient Crs present symptoms are compatible with a diagnosis of pervasive developmental delay – not otherwise specific (sic).”
One problem with research performed by the Geier’s is the lack of an appropriate IRB–institutional review board. Dr. Geier placed himself, his wife and his son on the IRB. Not noted in the Order is the timing of the IRB. If memory serves correctly, there is evidence that the IRB was put into place after research began.
An IRB must consist of at least five (5) members. The ICI IRB’s members include the Respondent, his son and the Respondent’s wife. The ICI IRB is inconsistent with the requirement that a member should not have a conflict of interest in the research project.
The Order includes discussion that “The Respondent [Mark Geier] Misrepresented His Credentials”. When the investigative board interviewed him, here is how Dr. Geier described himself:
On November 6, 2007, in furtherance of the Board’s investigation, Board staff interviewed the Respondent. During the interview, the Respondent stated that he was a board-certified geneticist and a board-certified epidemiologist. The Respondent stated that he had been board-certified in epidemiology in 2007.
However, “board certified” and “geneticist” seem to be incorrect:
As to being a board-certified epidemiologist, this appears to be inaccurate:
166. By letter dated March 29, 2011, the Respondent, through counsel, submitted to the Board a “Fellowship Certificate” from the American College of Epidemiology (“ACE”). The ACE is a professional association whose policy on admission is “inclusiveness.” An ACE fellow is not required to have a degree in epidemiology, a degree in a “related field” is sufficient.
167. The Respondent knew, or reasonably should have known, that he was not board-certified in epidemiology.
As to being a “geneticist”, Dr. Geier is a “genetic counselor”, a different creature:
168. By letter dated March 29, 2011, the Respondent, through counsel, also submitted to the Board a certificate issued by the American Board of Medical Genetics on September 15, 1987 certifying the Respondent as a Genetic Counselor.
169. The term “genetic counselor” is not synonymous with “geneticist.” A geneticist, or medical geneticist, is a physician who evaluates a patient for genetic conditions, which may include performing a physical examination and ordering tests. A genetic counselor is an individual with a masters degree who helps to educate the patient and provides an assessment of the risk of the condition recur in the family.
170. The Respondent knew, or reasonably should have known, that he was not a board-certified geneticist.
Geneticist/genetic counselor and whether he is board certified in epidemiology or not are interesting but minor questions compared to the board findings of misconduct in treating disabled children. So it comes as no surprise that it is ordered:
Based on the foregoing, it is this 27th day of April , 2011, by a majority of the quorum of the Board:
ORDERED that pursuant to the authority vested by Md. State Gov’t Code Ann., § 1 0-226( c)(2), the Respondent’s license to practice medicine in the State of Maryland be and is hereby SUMMARILY SUSPENDED;
Mr. Mark Geier is at present unable to practice medicine in his home state of Maryland.
kathleen Seidel has already blogged this: Maryland Medical Board Suspends Dr. Mark Geier’s License