Late last month, the Maryland State Board of Physicians suspended Mark Geier’s license to practice medicine in the state. Over the past decade, Geier and his son David have become heroes of families seeking alternative therapies for autism — primarily by promising answers (and cures) when the medical establishment couldn’t provide any. Geier’s suspension was the result of his promotion of something he advertised as the Lupron “protocol”–which involves injecting autistic children with powerful doses of a drug used to chemically castrate sex offenders. (The Chicago Tribune‘s Trine Tsouderos was one of the first reporters to detail how the Geiers’ supposed “miracle cure” was pseudoscientific bunk. Her May 21, 2009 piece remains one of the best introductions to the Geiers.)
When Geier’s suspension was announced, there was speculation that there was still another shoe to drop–specifically, one belonging to David, who does not have an MD (or any advanced degree). There’s no need to speculate any more: David Geier has been charged with practicing medicine without a license. The Baltimore Sun has the story:
The Maryland Board of Physicians says David Geier worked with his father, Dr. Mark Geier, at the Rockville and Owings Mills offices of Genetic Consultants of Maryland, where they used a drug therapy that autism experts say is based on junk science.
The pair has built a national following among parents who believe autism is linked to the mercury in vaccines, a theory discredited by mainstream medicine. They developed a treatment using Lupron, a testosterone suppressant approved for prostate cancer and ovarian fibroids, as well as in chemically castrating sex offenders.
The full scope of what Geier is being charged with is pretty horrific. In May 2008, the mother of a ten-year-old boy brought her son to ASD Centers, LLC, which the Geiers touted as a center “where medical solutions for autism can be found.” According to what the woman told the Board of Physicians, she “rel[ied] on Dr. [Mark] Geier’s growing reputation in autism-related court cases, and his credentials as a medical geneticist” when she decided to trust “that he had the expertise to perform a competent evaluation and treatment of my son.”
But when the woman brought her child to the Geiers’ offices, it was David who, “after asking very few questions regarding Patient A’s medical history and symptoms,” began following the boy around the examination with an ultrasound wand. It was also David Geier who ordered a series of lab tests that were so extensive that the lab was “flummoxed by the amount of blood needed for the tests.” And presumably it was David Geier who sent the family a bill for $1,200, including $450 for ultrasounds, $450 for evalutions, $150 for a psychiatric interview, and $150 for an office consultation.
The Board of Physicians has scheduled a case resolution conference in seven weeks, on July 6. Next Friday, the Geiers are scheduled to give a presentation titled “Cutting Edge Therapies for Autism: The Role and Treatment of Elevated Male Hormones and Associated Clinical/Behavioral Problems” at the annual AutismOne conference in Chicago. If history is any indication, the list of recent charges against the Geiers will only serve to enhance their status in the “alternative” autism community. I first met the Geiers at the 2009 AutismOne conference–two days after Tsouderos’ article on the Geiers appeared. That piece included a memorable passage in which an acolyte of the Geiers’ described giving a shot a child: “His dad is a big guy like myself, [and] it took both of us to hold him down to give him the first injection. It reminded me of…a really wild dog or a cat.” Still, the conference attendees did not question whether the Geiers’s treatments were safe — but they did surround Tsouderos, grab her tape recorder, and force her to leave the hotel where the conference was being held.