Why not just castrate them? (Part 7): The fallout from the suspension of Mark Geier’s medical license

The other day, I wrote about how mercury militia general and autism quack extraordinaire Dr. Mark Geier had his medical license suspended by the State of Maryland. At the time, I lamented how it was at least five years two late, but there was one aspect of the story that I didn’t really dwell on, although I did mention it. It’s something I hadn’t known about before, something I was actually pretty shocked to find out, and I wanted to know how it could possibly have happened. I’m referring to the fact that Mark Geier’s son David Geier had somehow slimed his quacky way onto the State of Maryland Commission on Autism as a “diagnostician.” As I pointed out at the time, David Geier is not a physician and has no qualifications to diagnose or treat autism (or anything other medical condition, for that matter). Not that that’s stopped him thus far; he does it anyway.

By way of the Baltimore Sun, I now learn that part of the fallout in the aftermath of Mark Geier’s humiliation is that, not only is the state trying to get rid of David Geier but people are asking–shall we say?–inconvenient questions about how he was appointed to the Commission on Autism in the first place:

A day after Dr. Mark Geier’s medical license was suspended in Maryland over allegations of putting children with autism at risk, state officials were seeking to remove his son from a state commission that advises the governor on the disorder.

The officials were also struggling to explain why David Geier, who has an undergraduate degree in biology and does not have a medical license, was identified by the Commission on Autism as its “diagnostician.” The commission’s website had listed him as a doctor until Wednesday, which officials said was a clerical error. The commission’s listing also includes the Geiers’ company, ASD Centers LLC, whose website lists a corporate center in Silver Spring but is not registered in Maryland.

“Under the circumstances, we do not believe it’s appropriate for David Geier to serve on the autism commission,” said David Paulson, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which submitted 19 names to the governor, including David Geier’s, for approval to the panel. “Unfortunately, he declined to resign his commission. … As a result, we are considering the appropriate next steps.”

Leave it to a Geier not to take the hint when not wanted. Like father, like son, I suppose. However it is a very interesting question. How could someone like David Geier, a man with no qualifications, associated with quackery like the Geiers’ Lupron protocol, which is in essence chemical castration, a treatment normally used for metastatic prostate cancer in men and endometriosis in women. The drug is also used in some protocols for in vitro fertilization in order to shut down sex hormone production, allowing the physician to control the hormonal cycle completely. In any case, as has been documented extensively, there is no biological rationale for using Lupron, and the rationale that the Geiers use, namely that testosterone binds to mercury and that lowering testosterone “frees up” mercury so that it can be chelated more easily, is utter nonsense. Yet somehow a man associated with such rank quackery was appointed to Maryland’s autism commission. It’s expensive, too. Lupron therapy can cost $5,000 to $6,000 per month, an expense insurance will cover in children only for precocious puberty, a diagnosis that the Geiers also play fast and loose with.

So how did David Geier get on the panel? While it’s true that he has been caught in the past inflating his credentials, I doubt that explains it. The explanation coming from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene doesn’t sound particularly convincing:

Paulson said the state was aware of “the controversial nature of David Geier’s views” when he was recommended for the position on the commission, which was formed by the legislature in 2009. But officials were looking for a “diverse” panel.

“Controversial.” You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. David Geier’s views are most definitely not “controversial,” at least not from a scientific standpoint. They’re demonstrably wrong. They’re pseudoscientific. They’re despicable quackery. They’re advocacy of abuse of autistic children. But controversial? Not so much. I do hate it so when clueless flaks like Paulson mislabel idiocy as being “controversial,” the implication being that there is a real scientific controversy. In the name of this, David Geier was put on the panel in the name of “giving the other side a voice”:

Paulson said the state was aware of “the controversial nature of David Geier’s views” when he was recommended for the position on the commission, which was formed by the legislature in 2009. But officials were looking for a “diverse” panel.

I also hate it when quacks like the Geiers are excused by well-meaning legitimate experts:

Dr. Gary Goldstein, president of the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a premier institution for treating autism, said he’d been dismayed by reports of doctors prescribing Lupron for the disorder for years but did not know about the Maryland doctor.

He said there are drugs to treat symptoms and behavioral therapy, but no medication to treat the core disorder. About 1 percent of children have autism, which inhibits social skills.

“You have to take a step back and understand the frustration and desperation of parents with children with autism,” he said. “We have no real medical treatments for the core symptoms of autism. Unfortunately, there are physicians out there, some well-meaning I suppose, who tell them herbs or medications will make a difference.”

Which is true, but relatively irrelevant to the case of Geier père et fils. Think of it this way. The Geiers have build a virtual “autism biomed” empire in Maryland, Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Kentucky, and Washington based on, in essence, the chemical castration of children. Speaking the Geier’s biomedical empire, we have to remember that he’s only been shut down in one state. True, it’s the state of his current residence, which is huge, but that doesn’t stop the Geiers from simply relocating to one of the other states in which Mark Geier holds a medical license. Heck, if Dr. Geier were to relocate to Virginia, he might not even have to move out of his very large, very expensive home; he could just accept a longer commute. The problem, as I’ve discussed before, boils down to ineffective state medical boards, many of which are overburdened and hampered by laws that mistake giving doctors due process with viewing a medical license as a right. It’s not; it’s a privilege. In any case, the ineffectual regulation of physicians by many state medical boards have allowed “unconventional” doctors like Rashid Buttar to continue their dubious medicine with impunity, in essence thumbing their noses at the medical establishment.

Which is what the Geiers are still doing in Illinois, Indiana, Texas, Florida, New Jersey, Kentucky, and Washington.

So, how to stop them? In most states, for the medical board to act, there have to be complaints, either from patients or fellow health care professionals. Whether there have been complaints about the Geiers or not, I don’t know, but there should be. Also, a license suspension in one state can trigger an investigation in another state. At the very least, the Mark Geier will have to report it the next time he applies for renewal of his license in the several states in which he is licensed.

I have two hopes right now. The first, and lesser, of the two is that David Geier will be kicked off of the Maryland Commission on Autism. He should never have been on that panel in the first place, and it would be very, very interesting to find out exactly who pushed for his appointment, given that the competition for the spots on that committee was pretty fierce. I highly doubt that David Geier got a spot on the committee on his merits; almost certainly someone somewhere pulled some strings. The second, and more important, hope is that this cascades, and Mark Geier finds himself losing his medical license in each and every state in which he holds one.

Only then will autistic children be safe from one quack. Unfortunately, there are always others to take his place.