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Outrage of the Month: More than Five Years Later, Florida Still Hasn’t Taken Action Against a Physician and His Life-Threatening Cancer “Treatment”

Health Letter, March 2024

By Robert E. Oshel, Ph.D., and Robert Steinbrook, M.D.

In November 2018, the Outrage of the Month column called attention to Utopia Wellness, a Tampa, Fla., medical center that had deceived patients by advertising and promoting an illegal and heart-toxic drug called cesium chloride for treatment of cancer. Earlier that year, Public Citizen’s Health Research Group had sent a letter to the Florida Board of Medicine asking for an investigation of the role of Dr. Carlos M. Garcia, the director of medicine and apparently the only physician at Utopia Wellness, in promoting the drug. We also asked the board to determine whether the physician and his staff had continued to treat cancer patients with compounded intravenous cesium chloride since late July 2018, in violation of FDA regulations. We asked the board to revoke Dr. Garcia’s medical license if they could confirm our allegations.

More than five years later, the matter remains unresolved, and Dr. Garcia continues to practice with an unrestricted medical license.

Based on Public Citizen’s complaint and that of the spouse of a cancer patient who died under Dr. Garcia’s “care,” the investigation led to a finding of probable cause to take disciplinary action against Dr. Garcia for his treatment of six patients and failure to keep adequate medical records. At least one of the patients died. Subsequently, staff of the state Department of Health’s Office of General Counsel reached a proposed settlement agreement with Dr. Garcia. The agreement would have placed a Letter of Concern in his record, required him to pay a fine and reimbursement of costs, required him to complete 15 hours of training and placed him on probation with “indirect supervision” for two years.

In June 2023, the Board of Medicine considered the proposed settlement agreement. To its credit, the board rejected the settlement. Instead, the board proposed a new agreement in which Dr. Garcia’s license would be revoked. Dr. Garcia did not agree. The Office of General Counsel staff then modified the charges to include a lack of documentation of adequate examinations. In January 2024, the modified charges led to a new Special Probable Cause Panel meeting and a recommendation for further disciplinary action. The matter is still pending.

As the disciplinary process drags on, Dr. Garcia has expanded Utopia Wellness, and he now advertises the Utopia Cancer Center as well. In January 2024, the Florida Department of Health’s physician profile website page for Dr. Garcia showed a “clear/active” license and did not list any pending actions. Another website page, this one for licensure verification, listed four public complaints that had been filed against Dr. Garcia.

Even though the Florida Board of Medicine seemingly wants to do the right thing, it is outrageous that the board has allowed this threat to patient safety to remain unresolved for more than five years and that little has been done to warn the public. In the June 2023 hearing, one member of the Florida Board of Medicine summarized their view of the situation: “absolutely a fraud and nothing but a fraud on the patients who [are] using something that has no scientific basis whatsoever, and these are people who really need help.”