Oct. 24, 2018

Doctor at Medical Center That Fabricated Study Citations on Illegal Cancer Treatment Must Be Investigated

Public Citizen Also Demands FTC and FDA Investigate the Medical Center’s Deceptive Promotion of Cesium Chloride

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The director of medicine at a medical center that falsified scientific citations for the advertisement of an illegal heart-toxic drug for the treatment of cancer must be investigated by the Florida Board of Medicine, Public Citizen demanded today in a letter to the agency (PDF).

Utopia Wellness, located just outside of Tampa and led by Dr. Carlos Garcia, promotes on its website the use of intravenous cesium chloride as an alternative treatment for cancer and calls the chemical “safe” despite U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists finding that it can cause fatal heart rhythm disturbances and sudden death. Cesium chloride is not FDA-approved and has been available only through pharmacy compounding.

The medical center’s online promotional materials also claim that cesium chloride has had “astounding success in certain cancers.” But there is no evidence from any well-designed clinical trials to support this claim. Moreover, Public Citizen discovered that 30 citations of scientific papers listed on Utopia Wellness website as purported evidence for this claim were clearly deliberately falsified. In fact, these papers had nothing to do with cesium chloride.

In July, the FDA partially granted Public Citizen’s request that the agency prohibit the use cesium chloride in pharmacy compounding because agency scientists had determined more than two years ago that the chemical is not safe for human use and has not been shown to be effective for the prevention or treatment of any form of cancer. As a result of the agency’s July action, cesium chloride cannot be legally used in pharmacy compounding.

Public Citizen demands the board investigate Garcia’s role in Utopia Wellness’ dissemination of false materials and whether he and his staff have continued to treat cancer patients with illegally compounded intravenous cesium chloride since the FDA’s prohibition in July. Garcia is the only physician at the medical center.

“Utopia Wellness’ deliberate falsification of scientific paper citations on its website represents a brazen attempt to dupe vulnerable cancer patients into believing that cesium chloride is safe and effective for treating cancer,” said Meena Aladdin, a health researcher with Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “The medical center must face severe consequences for promoting such quackery and endangering the lives of patients.”

In its letter, Public Citizen urged the Florida board to revoke Garcia’s medical license if the allegations outlined in the organization’s letter are confirmed.

Public Citizen previously asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (PDF) in early October to investigate the medical center’s advertising practices and demand that the company cease and desist its deceptive promotion of cesium chloride. The organization also asked the FDA (PDF) to investigate the medical center’s promotion and use of cesium chloride for treatment of cancer. The agencies have acknowledged Public Citizen’s requests.

###