Why lupron “franchises” for autism?

25 May

You know how it is when you read a story filled with red flags. A lot of them are obvious and hit you right away. Others sit in the back of your brain until enough pieces are put together and the idea springs forward, “that’s what’s wrong!” Such was the case with the Tribune stories on the Geiers and their “Lupron Protocol”. The high costs were an obvious red flag. I mean, $12,000 in tests and $6,000 a month in prescriptions? But, one red flag that took a while to process was the existence of the “franchises”. From the Tribune story:

…the Geiers have opened eight clinics in six states, including one in Springfield and their arrangement with Eisenstein, which he described as a “franchise” of sorts.

and

Some of the Geiers’ clinics are headed by doctors; a psychiatrist runs the Springfield clinic. But that is not always the case. The clinic in Indianapolis is run by an X-ray technologist who has an autistic child.

In Washington state, the head is a health advocate and documentary filmmaker.

OK, the existance of “franchises” run by x-ray technologists and documentary filmmakers is a pretty clear red flag.

But, take a moment and recall: what is the Geiers’ rationale for prescribing lupron? The answer: the Geiers claim that autistic children have a very high incidence of precocious puberty. They are not treating autism, they say. No, they are treating the precocious puberty, with Lupron, a drug which reduces testosterone production in the body. At least, this is what they tell the insurance companies in order to get reimbursements for the parents.

Recently it hit me. Why the franchises? Precocious puberty is diagnosed and treated by pediatric endocrinologists. Heck, pediatricians can do an initial diagnosis.

Is there a shortage of pediatric endocrinologists in, say, Chicago? (I counted 12 in that list in Chicago proper).

If this were really about autistic kids almost all having precocious puberty, Dr. Geier’s talks would have one simple tag line: Get your kid to a to the nearest pediatric endocrinologist for a full work up.

Instead, his message seems to be: call me (someone who doesn’t specialize in pediatric endocrinology) or wait until I establish a franchise in your home town.

That would be one giant red flag for me if I were considering using the Geiers.

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3 Responses to “Why lupron “franchises” for autism?”

  1. club166 May 26, 2009 at 00:31 #

    OK, the existance of “franchises” run by x-ray technologists and documentary filmmakers is a pretty clear red flag.

    OK, not only is that a “Red Flag”, unless Geier has a valid medical license to practice in those states where the “franchise” is not run by a doctor, he is in clear violation of those states’ medical practice acts.

    In the US, medical licensure is run by each individual state. If you want to practice medicine in six different states, you need six different medical licenses. He may be able to skirt this law if he has a medical doctor “front man” in the clinic to sign all the orders and prescriptions. But if he doesn’t have a front man, then he cannot see the patient in one state, and write his orders and prescriptions from another.

    Joe

  2. Mike Stanton May 26, 2009 at 01:54 #

    This is so obvious, now you have pointed it out. Thanks Sullivan

  3. cpu52362 May 26, 2009 at 18:56 #

    Off Topic, but another red flag. Where was I reading about a newer Lovaas(?) clinic, in Montana?

    Something about visiting loved ones, and horseback riding, and fishing and all, but how friendly is the weather in Montana during the Winter time? I am sure there are some places that aren’t Dakota cold, but not many.

    It sounded so nice I would almost want to sign myself up and go there (barring prohibitive costs) but somewhere in the more moderate ranging climates, please!

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