Looking back at two decades of Geier

20 Oct

In the past Mark and (to a lesser extent) his son David Geier were frequently being discussed online. It struck me that given how far back the Geier saga goes, many may not be aware of the myriad stories of the Geiers. How often and from how many angles the news has come about just how bad the Geier legacy is. They’ve been involved in the vaccine court (and from the outset–1993–showing “intellectual dishonesty“), publishing questionable research and running a clinic whose special “therapy” is so clearly wrong.

I went back to an article I wrote in 2007 where a Special Master (the judge in the “vaccine court”) wrote that the Geiers’ work was of such poor quality that the court would no longer pay for them to act as experts. I was going to just re-run that article (and it is copied in full below) when I thought it worthwhile to list some of the more notable actions of the Geier team.

The best writing on the Geiers was done by Kathleen Seidel of Neurodiversity.com (some of the best investigative reporting ever). Unfortunately a server crash took down the site, but one can find the articles on the Wayback Machine (archive.org).

Just a few specific examples:

Maryland Authorities Charge “Lupron Protocol” Promoters With Unprofessional Conduct, Unlicensed Practice of Medicine ·

Significant Misrepresentations: Mark Geier, David Geier & the Evolution of the Lupron Protocol

A Silent Withdrawal (details behind the withdrawal of a Geier paper).

The withdrawal followed and was likely caused by Ms. Seidel’s investigations, laid out in this letter to the Journal (autoimmunity reviews) in which she noted (among other facts) that the Geiers actions were questionable from an ethics standpoint. In specific, in regard the their IRB (Institutional Review Board) approval for their study:

The Office of Human Research Protection registration of the IRB of the “Institute for Chronic Illnesses” was submitted by Mark Geier in February 2006 — fifteen months after the commencement of the research the Geiers describe in this article, which began in November 2004, the same month in which Dr. Geier testified in court that he had no prior experience in the diagnosis or treatment of autistic children. (13,14) The seven-member IRB consists of Mark and David Geier; Dr. Geier’s wife; two of Dr. Geier’s business associates; and two mothers of autistic children, one of whom has publicly acknowledged that her son is a patient/subject of Dr. Geier, and the other of whom is plaintiff in three pending vaccine-injury claims. The membership of the IRB gives rise to misgivings about the independence of ethical review of Dr. and Mr. Geiers’ research. Every member has discernible conflicts of interest, and none has any discernible expertise in endocrinology — expertise crucial to the competent oversight and conduct of research involving pharmaceutical manipulation of children’s hormones.

Yes, they got “approval” from themselves after they did the research. Just astonishingly bad. Completely circumventing the entire purpose of an IRB.

There’s so much more good work at Neurodiversity.com. But let me switch to articles here at Left Brain/Right Brain:

David Geier ordered to pay $10,000 for practicing medicine without a license

Is Mark Geier finished as an expert witness in the vaccine court? A quote from this vaccine court decision:

I will not likely be inclined to compensate attorneys in any future opinions for consultant work performed by Mark Geier after the publication date of this opinion.

Note that the question is whether to pay Mark Geier as a consultant. This was in 2011, after it was established that he was not an expert and would not be compensated for work as an expert. This didn’t stop attorneys tried to keep him on the payroll as a “consultant”.

How about the Geier theory behind using Lupron to shut down hormone production in autistic kids? It started as a way to enhance chelation. Chelation is without merit in autism treatment to begin with, but the Geiers took it a step further. One of their collaborators, and apparently the parent of one of the first kids to be subjected to the “Lupron Protocol” quoted David Geier as saying, “We figured something new out…..we think we can get rid of the mercury by lowering the testosterone”. The “science” behind the “Lupron Protocol” AutismOne throws their support behind the Geiers in Autism Science Digest is ridiculous. Even the Geiers shifted away from their original theory, leaving out the mercury angle: The Geier Story on Testosterone Shifts Again.

In their research, the Geiers cite Simon Baron-Cohen, whose has worked on the idea that exposure to testosterone in-utero could be a cause of autism. Baron-Cohen’s work had no scientific relevance to the Geier work. But, thankfully, Baron-Cohen was quoted in a news article about the Geiers:

Simon Baron-Cohen, a professor of developmental psychopathology at the University of Cambridge in England and director of the Autism Research Center in Cambridge, said it is irresponsible to treat autistic children with Lupron.

“The idea of using it with vulnerable children with autism, who do not have a life-threatening disease and pose no danger to anyone, without a careful trial to determine the unwanted side effects or indeed any benefits, fills me with horror,” he said.

Mark Geier lost his medical licenses. Yes, licenses plural. Lost in many states. He had franchised his Lupron work out. It took a cease and desist order issued to make him really stop practicing medicine.

Criticism of Mark Geier’s “expertise” was not limited to the “vaccine court”. In Boyd Haley and Mark Geier: Experts? we see how he failed to meet the standards of an expert in a civil court.

The Geiers’ have done well, financially. Charging over $50k/year, plus over $10k in tests, could do that. Here’s their home in Florida (The Geiers’ Second Home)

As part of the action to strip Mark Geier of his medical license: Maryland Board of Phyicians: Mark Geier “endangers autistic children and exploits their parents”

In Crist backer Gary Kompothecras bullies Florida health officials, we learned that political pressure was being brought to bear to give the Geiers access to Florida’s health records to perform a study.

The Geiers requested over $100,000 for work on the Hepatitis B Omnibus, including multiple trips to Europe. (almost $24k for one trip alone). Much of the request had no documentation (bills, airline tickets, etc.)

Quotes from the special master in the decision in that case:

I found that the articles authored by Dr. Geier unpersuasive and not scientifically sound, based on my prior reading of the articles and critiques of them. I am also aware that Dr. Geier is trained as a geneticist and obstetrician, not an immunologist, epidemiologist, or rheumatologist, and that my fellow special masters and several other judges have opined unfavorably on his qualifications and testimony as an expert.

and, in regards to David Geier (who holds no advanced degrees):

“In summary, the undersigned finds the costs for David Geier’s efforts to be obviously unreasonable as Mr. Geier is not qualified to address the medical issues involved in the Program and his work was duplicative of the efforts by Dr. Geier. Thus, the undersigned denies the request for costs for David Geier in its entirety.”

The egregious billing activities of the Geiers amount to treating the vaccine program as their personal piggy bank, in my opinion.

In the courts, in their research and in their clinics, the Geiers have time and again shown behavior which is just reprehensible.

Below is the article I wrote in 2007 which prompted this summary: For your own good, don’t use that study!.

____________________________________________

I just read something interesting on the web.  Someone was telling a petitioner in a Vaccine Court trial that she would have a better chance of winning if her expert witness didn’t use a research report by the Geiers.

Was this a blog?  Was this a yahoo group?  Nope, this was a decision on the Vaccine Court’s website.  This was the opinion of Special Master Vowell.

If that name sounds familiar, it’s because she is one of the three Special Masters working on the Autism Omnibus Proceedings.  What exactly did she say?

“I suggested that, in view of the criticisms leveled at Dr. Geier and his research, petitioner would be better served if her expert could opine favorably at the hearing without relying on the cited articles. “

and

“In attempting to assist this petitioner in presenting the strongest possible case for vaccine causation of her illness, I urged her counsel to caution her expert against relying on the Geier articles he cited.”

Ouch.

In case you were wondering, I wasn’t just reading the Vaccine Court decisions for fun.   I was prompted by something that Mark Geier said on NightLine.  Dr. Geier made a comment about “Wining” in vaccine court.

This struck me as a very odd statement.  Petitioners (plaintiffs) win.  Lawyers win.  Expert witnesses?  They can help someone win, but I don’t see them as “winning”.  Besides, there was something in the way he said it.  Something like when a kid says, “of course I did my homework” and you know you have to go check.  So, check I did.

I looked through the published and unpublished decisions and searched for “Geier” in each.  These go back to 1997 for published decisions.   “Decisions” include actual cases as well as pre- and post-trial actions.  The one quoted above is a good example of “pretrial”.  Post-trial Decisions are often about whether everyone should get paid what they billed.  Or, at least, this seems to be the case in more recent times.

Not all Decisions are trials.  Keep in mind, a single trial could have multiple Decisions.  I haven’t tried to group them together by case, I just made a list of all of the ones I could find involving Dr. Mark Geier.

With all that out of the way, what did I find?  There are 31 Decisions posted that involve Dr. Geier.  Of those, three are cases “won” where Dr. Geier was involved.  A further 3 may be considered “mixed” or “neutral”.  Figure that in 80% of the cases, the Petitioner and/or Dr. Geier loses.  I consider that a generous take.  It really is more like 90%.

Let’s look at those “winners”.

1999: The petitioner won the case.  “The court’s decision in this case is not based on Dr. Geier’s testimony, but neither will the court discard his testimony as unreliable.”  Not the most ringing endorsement.

2000: The petitioner won the case.  Dr. Geier submitted an affadavit which was used to “buttress” the case made by the expert witness who actually testified.

2006: Discussion of fees where Dr. Geier’s fees and use is found to be reasonable. ” In the instant case, $1562.50 in expert witness fees for Dr. Mark Geier’s services is reasonable.”

Yes, in the last 10 years, those are the “good ones”.   Not impressive.

I have seen people post that somehow the Special Masters are trying to discredit Dr. Geier because he is so effective.  People seem to imply that his recent stances on mercury and autism caused the Government to try to neutralize Dr. Geier. 

With that in mind I looked to see if the tone of the rejections has changed with time.  I didn’t really see that.  Keep in mind that some of the well known comments about Dr. Geier predate all these decisions.  For example, he was called “intellectually dishonest” way back in 1993!

Here is a sampling of quotes from other decisions through the past 10 years:

1997: Dr. Geier’s opinion, which is in an area outside his expertise, was not persuasive to the court.

1998: The court is unpersuaded by the opinions of Drs. Kinsbourne and Geier.

1999: This conclusion itself effectively renders the rest of Dr. Geier’s theory useless to petitioner in this case.

2002: “First of all, Dr. Geier is wholly unqualified to testify concerning the two major issues in this case”

2003: “Intellectual rigor is missing from Dr. Tornatore’s testimony and the stealth witness Dr. Geier’s submission after trial. “

2004: “He is however a professional witness in areas for which he has no training, expertise, and experience”

2005: “The Special Master also noted that Dr. Geier’s opinions have been increasingly criticized in other vaccine cases. See Decision at 5. The Special Master identified seven cases in which Special Masters had rejected the expert opinion offered by Dr. Geier because the opinion related to areas outside Dr. Geier’s areas of education, training and experience.”

2006: This was a question of charges.  Dr. Geier charged $29,350.  In the end, they found $8,520 was reasonable.  It was  found that he was (1) not qualified as an expert, (2) charging for work on his own publications and (3) charging for time spent working in a related civil case.

“Since Dr. Geier did not possess the necessary expertise to testify in this case, the Court will reduce his hourly rate from $250.00/hour to $200.00/hour. Petitioner will not be compensated for costs that can be directly attributed to Dr. Geier’s original publications, attorney/lawyer consultations, and physician consultations. Additionally, the work billed for petitioner’s civil cases is not compensable.”

2007: Again Dr. Geier’s payment is cut. 

“For the reasons stated above, the undersigned finds 13.5 hours to be excessive. Dr. Geier  will be compensated for only those hours that are reasonable. Based on the undersigned’s experience with the Vaccine Program, Dr. Geier will be awarded compensation for five hours of  his time which is a reasonable, indeed generous, number of hours for a literature search and review of articles. “

Again, that is just a sampling,  No attempt was made to be random.  The tone has been increasing against Dr. Geier, though.  As noted in 2005, “The Special Master also noted that Dr. Geier’s opinions have been increasingly criticized in other vaccine cases”.  So it is increasing.  But that is only increasing by going from Bad to Worse. 

You are welcome to go through the decisions and see if I have been quote mining.  One thing you will see is the possible reason why the Special Master has started warning petitioners to avoid Dr. Geier’s studies.  There are statements to the effect of, “If I had known Dr. Geier was useless as an expert witness, I would have hired someone else”.

Sounds like good advice. 

6 Responses to “Looking back at two decades of Geier”

  1. reissd October 20, 2013 at 17:07 #

    Many of the subsequent anti-vax articles, for example by Tomljenovic and Shaw, seem to still rely on Geiers. That makes this careful compilation of the problems with their work even more important. Thank you.

  2. Thomas October 20, 2013 at 17:19 #

    Typo alert. “Wining” should be “winning”

  3. Sebastian Jackson October 20, 2013 at 19:55 #

    And now we have Mark Blaxill seemingly admitting in his e-mails that he knew the Geiers weren’t legit. And yet he followed them anyway and encouraged his readers to do the same for ten years. Pathetic.

  4. Lawrence October 20, 2013 at 20:26 #

    I hope Jake keeps up his good work – all by himself, he’s uncovering the lies and falsehoods that have sustained the anti-vaccine movement for the last decade…..

  5. lilady October 20, 2013 at 21:32 #

    Let’s not forget how Brian Hooker got to the Congressmen to set up last year’s sham autism hearing.

    From Anne Dachel’s AoA interview of Hooker:

    http://www.ageofautism.com/2012/12/brian-hookers-testimony-autism.html

    “Brian explained how he became involved in the hearing.

    My initial thanks go to Dr. Mark Geier and David Geier, who strategically linked me up with a friend of theirs, who in turn has become my good friend as well. Through the work of this individual, Dr. Andrew Wakefield and I were invited to meet with Rep. Darrell Issa, Rep. Vern Buchanan and their wives in early May, 2012 to discuss malfeasance in the CDC regarding autism and vaccines. Andy discussed the MMR vaccine and the vaccine schedule. I talked specifically about thimerosal and the cover-up of CDC data that affirm a causal relationship between thimerosal and neurodevelopmental disorders including autism. Rep. Issa was concerned regarding the CDC information and stated that this was the type of government misconduct that his committee (Oversight and Government Reform) specifically addressed.

    I was in DC for a National Science Foundation function later the same month and had the opportunity to meet with Reps. Issa and Buchanan again, this time with Rep. Dan Burton. Rep. Issa affirmed his commitment to hold a hearing at that time. Rep. Burton detailed his valiant efforts to get the CDC and large pharma to remove mercury from vaccines and indicated that they wouldn’t listen to him.

    I’ve worked very diligently since May with the Oversight committee staff to convey what I had found via the FOIA and to get additional information from CDC relevant to thimerosal. Along the way, I gained the support of Barry and Dolly Segal, through Focus Autism and they have become pivotal to this entire effort. In addition, I received a very significant amount of assistance from Dawn Loughborough, Bob Krakow, Bobbie Manning and Louise Habakus. They are all amazing sources of insight and have advised me throughout the process. I also need to acknowledge my friends at EBCALA, especially Louis Conte, Rolf Hazlehurst, Becky Estepp and Kevin Barry, who have been working with the committee staff very effectively regarding NVICP reform.

    I was able to meet with the Oversight committee staff several times between May and November, up to the day before the hearing, to discuss the pertinent details. I also was corresponding with Beth Clay from SafeMinds who was working very diligently on the issue as well. When the committee staff finally indicated the participants in the panel, I was disappointed because there was only one participating organization (Safeminds) that included the relationship of vaccines (specifically thimerosal) to autism causation within their mission. The rest of the panel would either avoid the issue or deny any causal relationship. Given the importance of autism causation, this was just not a balanced panel.”

    Last year’s hearing was “facilitated” by the intervention of Mark Geier and Andy Wakefield and the wining and dining of Congressmen and and their wives.

    This year’s year’s hearing cost Jennifer Larson $ 40,000 in donations to Darrell Issa’s reelection campaigns.

    What’s next year’s hearing going to cost?

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