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Focus: Medical disciplinary matter spotlights regulatory process

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2014 | Doctor Errors

Doctors in New Jersey and nationally occasionally subject themselves to intense scrutiny in regard to their medical practices and treatment of patients. Sometimes that focus comes from state and federal health regulators, especially where an established pattern of medical errors and patient harm is reasonably suggested.

The process of discipline being officially administered to medical professionals by government authorities is, as many readers might suspect, detailed and process-driven.

For example, the Food and Drug Administration, despite its broad reach in health-related matters, cannot revoke a physician’s license to practice medicine. That power is reserved, in New Jersey and elsewhere, for state medical authorities. On the other hand, state medical boards lack the FDA’s authority in many matters, such as that federal agency’s power to terminate clinical trials deemed dangerous to patients or otherwise problematic.

A recent case from Texas sheds interesting light on how various regulatory bodies weigh in on matters of medical concern. At the center of the case is a Texas doctor who has long been involved in research and promotion of so-called antineoplaston drugs, which he says have proven application in treating different types of cancer.

He has been challenged for many years on that point. The National Cancer Institute dismisses his claims. The FDA has never approved antineoplaston drugs for any cancer treatments. The Texas Medical board placed the doctor on a decade-long probation in the past for using such drugs to treat cancer and AIDS patients.

Still, he persists, with both a clinical trial and advertising.

Things might be coming to a head. The FDA has formally warned the doctor about underreported side effects in patients, as well as high rates of patient overdosing with antineoplaston drugs. The agency has ordered the physician to desist making any claims about the drugs.

And, following that action, the medical board has acted, filing a complaint recently against the doctor alleging false advertising.

The doctor has responded that his comments are truthful and that he has a constitutional right to make them.

We will keep readers informed of any material developments in the matter.

Source: USA TODAY, “Texas charges controversial doctor with false ads, “Liz Szabo, Jan. 8, 2014

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