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Major fail by medical regulators: Dr. Rashid Buttar given slap on the wrist

Posted Apr 20 2010 10:00pm 1 Comment

Beware, North Carolina. Beware. Dr. Rashid Buttar is free to practice medicine.

So goes the title of a blog post by Orac at Respectful Insolence .

Background, Dr. Rashid Buttar is an alternative medical practitioner who has, amongst other things, “therapies” to treat autism. He has been a major proponent of chelation. He is also notorious for his urine injections . Yes, urine.

Dr. Buttar was investigated by his state’s medical examiners. Again, from Orac: Rashid Buttar’s going down: The North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners finally acts

From a news report at that time:

The panel also found that Buttar exploited patients by charging exorbitant fees for unproven therapies that didn’t work. The panel recommended that his license be suspended indefinitely, but that the suspension be immediately stayed. Until the board decides, Buttar may practice without restrictions.

from a recent news story :

In that Michigan case, Buttar treated the child without having first performed an exam, a violation of the state’s medical practice act.

Did he “go down”? No. Dr. Buttar was able to benefit from laws he, himself, pushed through his State’s legislature:

Dr. Rashid Buttar, whose alternative medical practice in Huntersville has been under scrutiny by the N.C. Medical Board for a decade, has accepted a reprimand from the licensing agency.

But Buttar, who was facing potential restrictions to his license, instead can continue offering unconventional treatments as long as he asks patients to sign a form acknowledging his practice is outside the mainstream.

“This was a witch hunt from the beginning,” said Buttar, 44, whose practice attracts patients from 42 states and 37 countries. “They were trying to discredit me … but I didn’t do anything wrong.”

The consent order, signed Friday, marks the end of a battle that Buttar had vowed to take to the U.S. Supreme Court. He said he has spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” defending himself against the board’s allegations that he exploited patients by charging exorbitant fees for unproven therapies that didn’t work and by arbitrarily ordering expensive tests to make more money.

In recent years, Buttar led a successful effort by the N.C. Integrative Medical Society to get legislators to change state law to make it friendlier to practitioners of alternative medicine.

Again, quoting Orac:

But back to why Dr. Buttar might have agreed to this consent decree. The answer becomes obvious if you peruse the actual consent order . All it does is to reprimand Buttar and order him (1) to provide informed consent to his patients dictated by the board; (2) to obey all laws, as well as rules and regulations governing the practice of medicine; (3) notify the board if he changes his address; and (4) meet with the board periodically. In other words, Buttar got a slap on the wrist.

“A slap on the wrist”.


The top treatment listed on Dr. Buttar’s website is IV treatements which, as we know, include chelation. These have been “pioneered by Dr. Buttar” and the fact that the vast majority of the medical establishment rejects his ideas is a selling point:

However, the use of these highly effective treatments, suspiciously unpopular among traditional medicine regulators, is only determined by the medical providers in the clinic (ie, the Doctors, Nurse Practioners or PA’s).

Yes, your young child could sit with 7 other people in a room and stare at pictures of Pooh Bear (I wonder about the copyright issue on that?) while having an IV needle inserted to deliver “suspiciously unpopular” treatments. Here is the picture of his IV suite:

The main change between before the consent agreement and now is that all you have to do is sign a paper noting that you accept the fact that you accept the fact that these treatments have not been proven effective…

Do you think this “consent order” is anything more than a slap on the wrist? Here is a quote from it:

I understand and have been advised that the treatments and therapies that are to be provided by Dr. Buttar have not been proven effective by traditional research studies or conventional clinical trials and may not have been approved by the FDA for my diagnosis. Dr. Buttar makes no specific claims or representations that the treatments and therapies that he will be providing will be effective or cure the condition or diagnosis that I have.

Take a look at Dr. Buttar’s website (or the quote above) again.

However, the use of these highly effective treatments…

Yes, he’s still claiming that his treatments are “highly effective”, even though they “have not been proven effective by traditional research studies…”

Dr. Buttar was a part of the team involved with Desiree Jennings, the Redskins spokesperson who claimed the flu shot caused dystonia.

Dr. Buttar still has his supporters. From a recent story on this case:

Many of Buttar’s patients came to his defense in 2008. Among them was Elrene Thomas of Lexington. When contacted Tuesday, she was pleased to hear that Buttar can continue to practice. A retired nurse, she went to him for treatment seven years ago when she learned her breast cancer had spread to her spine. Instead of going through chemotherapy and radiation again, she tried IV infusions five days a week for months and had hyperbaric oxygen therapy twice a day for several weeks. She paid Buttar’s center $100,000 and said it was worth it.

“I really feel like he saved my life,” said Thomas, 77. “I’m not healthy in that I have stage 4 (cancer), but I’m surviving and I’m doing all these things that he taught me to do. I believe in his treatment.”

Yes, this is one of his success stories.

What do you call therapies a doctor makes up on his own, untested by “traditional” means? I would call that experimental. I think that is being generous.

Medical regulation exists for a reason. Slapping doctors on the wrist is not the reason.

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Comments (1)
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It is quite strange that MDs in North Carolina can provide 'odd' treatments whereas Sanoviv, a health institution founded by Myron Wentz of Usana is established in Mexico due to the difficulty of supplying not mean stream therapies, yet the therapies offered at Sanoviv are much closer to medical establishment therapies than what Dr Buttar and other may legally do in North Carolina and perhaps elsewhere in the US.
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