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Autism renegade fighting state boards

A doctor who claims that vaccines cause autism and who treats children with potent hormone-suppressing drugs has been suspended from practice in four states. But Mark R. Geier still has a clear license in seven states, including Florida.

Geier, who is based in Maryland, has no discipline nor pending complaints listed on his Florida Department of Health profile. Neither does a Florida radiologist who is listed as the director of a Geier-affiliated clinic in Broward.
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That doesn’t necessarily mean Geier has escaped DOH's attention. Florida law forces the agency to keep complaint investigations secret until certain legal barriers are passed.

In any event, the fight between Geier and the medical-science establishment is on. Four states have suspended his license, saying he gave dangerous, high-priced treatments to children without explaining the risks to parents and that he misrepresented his credentials.

In all of the suspensions -- Maryland in April, Washington State in May, and Indiana and Virginia in June -- Geier has filed appeals. In prior published reports and speeches he has said he has evidence to back up his claims and has offered many testimonial letters from patients.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Geier is now referring calls to his attorney, Joseph A. Schwartz III, who said a hearing is set on Geier's Illinois license for Aug. 22 in Chicago.

In the Post-Dispatch report, Schwartz said he is under a gag order awaiting a ruling on the Maryland appeal. Health News Florida has not yet been able to reach Schwartz.

Doctor says others suppress the truth

At a hearing before the Maryland board in May, described in the Chicago Tribune, Geier reportedly said he has become a target of mainstream medicine because of his anti-vaccine views.

“There are forces trying to shut down our comments,” Geier was quoted as saying.

He used the plural pronoun because he works with his son David, speaking at conferences on their notion that autism is related to mercury in vaccines or the environment, in combination with elevated levels of the male hormone testosterone.

Numerous studies have shown no link between childhood vaccines and autism, a theory that in recent years caused panic in many parents and a resulting drop in immunizations. The Geiers' theory of a link to early puberty is a novel one, however.

David Geier, who holds only a bachelor's degree, has been charged by the Maryland board with practicing medicine without a license, according to the Baltimore Sun.

The "Lupron Protocol'

Mark Geier was the subject of a 2009 Chicago Tribune investigation into his "Lupron Protocol," which involves injecting children with high doses of a drug used in last-ditch treatment of prostate cancer and certain women’s reproductive disorders.

Lupron has also occasionally been called the “chemical castration” drug, prescribed for sex offenders who volunteer for testosterone suppression in order to gain parole.

The Maryland Board report on Geier said Lupron inhibits a hormone that leads to development of normal ovaries and testes in children. It said Lupron is not approved for the treatment of autism.

However, it is approved for treatment of the rare disorder "precocious puberty," in which sex hormones are overactive in children younger than 9. The Maryland report noted that insurance would cover the cost of the Lupron injections -- $5,000 a month or more -- if the children were given that diagnosis.

The report said that Geier's diagnosis was improper in at least six children he treated.

In a Baltimore Sun opinion piece, Geier wrote that he views all this as a difference of scientific opinion.

"I understand that not everyone agrees with some of what our research has concluded," he wrote, "just as I don't necessarily agree with what other physicians have written."

The Florida connection

Geier’s multistate business, ASD Centers LLC (the acronym is for autism spectrum disorder), is based in Silver Spring, MD. According to its web site, which says ASD Centers are "where medical solutions for autism can be found," there are 10 centers, including Genetic Consultants of Fort Lauderdale.

The address of the center, actually in Tamarac, bears a sign saying it is for ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) and autism. No one came to the door there on Tuesday, but the office did not appear to be permanently shut down. Neighbors said the business keeps erratic hours.

Its registered agent, who also is identified on the ASD Centers web site as the Florida center’s director, is radiologist David Clayman. He works at an MRI diagnostic clinic nearby, but when a reporter went there and asked to speak with him, the receptionist said Clayman was too busy. He did not respond to a note asking him to call.

On the ASD Centers web site, Clayman is described as a board-certified neuroradiologist and the parent of a teen-age son who has autism. The site says Clayman was formerly chief of neuroradiology and associate professor of radiology at University Medical Center in Jacksonville, now called Shands Hospital Jacksonville.

The site says that Clayman’s autistic son is a patient of Dr. Geier. It is not clear whether Geier's treatment of the youth occurred in Florida or elsewhere, or indeed whether Geier has actively practiced in the state at all.

Mark Geier co-founded the ASD Centers with John L. Young, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Rockville, MD. Young also has a clear Florida license.

--South Florida reporter Brittany Alana Davis contributed to this report. Carol Gentry, Editor, can be reached at 727-410-3266 or by e-mail.