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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

US Senators take cues from group that approves of Heimlich medical atrocities

Posted by Cincinnati Beacon Staff

Photo courtesy of here.

Photo: Drs. Henry Heimlich & Neal Barnard at 4/10/10 PCRM gala.

Yesterday’s Burlington (Vermont) Free Press reported that US Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and Susan Collins (R-ME) were carrying a bill to eliminate the use of chimpanzees for medical research. The article, which says the lawmakers got on board after being “approached by members of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM),” includes harsh criticism about experimenting on apes from John J. Pippin MD, PCRM’s senior medical and research adviser.

We’d like to know if the Senators are aware, per the correspondence below, that Dr. Pippin and PCRM founder/president Neal Barnard MD have no problem with the Heimlich Institute’s medical atrocity experiments on AIDS, cancer, and Lyme Disease patients, both US citizens and foreign nationals, including Ethiopian sex workers. As Jeanne Lenzer reported this March in the British Medical Journal, the Heimlich experiments have been “denounced by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.”

For more information, check out Brian Ross’s ABC 20/20 report that aired a year and a half before the Matteson-Pippin correspondence. The segment opens with Dr. Heimlich being feted at a 2007 PCRM gala where he’s introduced by actor Alec Baldwin and includes an interview with Dr. Barnard defending Dr. Heimlich’s discredited medical claims. Also see Paul Teetor’s recent LA Weekly article about PCRM’s “Henry J. Heimlich Award for Innovative Medicine”(!) and our archives.

For our recent e-mail exchange with Dr. Barnard in which he failed to respond to why he knowingly provided false information about the Heimlich experiments to a Georgia blogger, click here.

Here’s a pdf version:

Eric Matteson MD (Mayo Clinic) & John Pippin MD (PCRM), correspondence re: Heimlich experiments

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  1. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Does the beacon staff have an opinion on the use of chimpanzees for taxpayer funded medical research?

    What’s wrong with taking good advice based on the merit of the advice and not the person or group giving it?

  2. Anon says:

    Change the subject and derail the thread. This age old technique is useful in our courts and also on blogs by people found with their pants down. The truth will set you free so try telling it for a change Kyle.

  3. Beacon Staff says:

    Does the beacon staff have an opinion on the use of chimpanzees for taxpayer funded medical research?


    What’s wrong with taking good advice based on the merit of the advice and not the person or group giving it?

    Because advice from an untrustworthy source is suspect and may, in fact, damage any cause, regardless of the cause’s merits.

    That’s the topic of this item and it’s an interesting one. May we stick with it rather than veering off into a debate about the merits of animal experimentation? Kyle or anyone else can certainly write an article about that subject and if such an article has merit, I’m confident the Beacon will publish it.

  4. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Does the beacon staff have an opinion on the use of chimpanzees for taxpayer funded medical research?

    I cannot speak for any but myself, but I have no opinion on the use of chimpanzees for medical research, taxpayer funded or otherwise.

    I do, however, think using humans for medical research is an atrocity, and that any organization claiming to be concerned with ethics should be able to say so.

  5. Kyle says:

    LOL Anon, I asked questions and gave no fact or fiction.
    I thought this article partially had something to do with Senators and chimpanzees (but I repeat myself, LOL). My mistake.

    I’m sorry to hear that the staff finds fallacious use of ad hominem attacks (or maybe genetic fallacies) damaging to any cause with independent merit.

    Maybe not all human medical research is atrocious. Certainly, if the recipients of “malariotheropy” did not have proper informed consent, that would be an ethics violation, including not being told that the experiment could kill them. Some would rather risk early or miserable death to get a cure than take no risk and have certain early or miserable death.

    Research on Humans
    Why do we need medical research on humans?

    The advances in medicine that we today take for granted—dialysis, organ transplantation, the artificial heart, and prescription drug therapies—are only available because someone was the first patient to use the experimental treatment. Without experimentation and research on humans, medical technology could not improve.

    At the same time, it’s essential that the rights of human subjects to confidentiality and privacy be observed, that their informed consent be obtained before experimentation begins, and that the research protocols are reviewed carefully for scientific merit. Unfortunately, in the past, some of that experimentation was forced on patients who were either unable to say no or did not know that they were being used as research subjects.

    It is also very important that financial ar-rangements be fully disclosed. Most medical institutions and clinics fail to tell you that they are getting paid just for recruiting you into the study. This amount can be substantial—a clinic might receive over $1,000 for recruiting just one participant.

  6. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    Kyle, are you really trying to defend the Heimlich Institute’s malariotherapy experiments, which have been condemned the world over?

    If someone decides to align him or herself with the Nazi Party on issue X, do you think it should be off limits to find out that person’s view on the Nazis’ racist agenda?

  7. Hypocritic Oath says:

    John Pippin MD, December 2008: (Dr. Neal Barnard) has known Dr. Heimlich for many years and he is confident that any research he has undertaken is ethically sound.

    ABC 20/20, June 2007:
    The famed inventor of the life-saving Heimlich maneuver, Dr. Henry Heimlich, is now proposing that AIDS can be cured by injecting patients with malaria, a theory denounced by leading AIDS researchers as dangerous, scientifically unfounded and unethical…In a study commissioned by Dr. Heimlich, eight human subjects have already been injected with a form of malaria in China in the 1990s, and he is now involved with a research project involving AIDS patients in Ethiopia who are initially left untreated for malaria with available medicines. But leading AIDS researchers and medical ethicists say they are appalled. “It is scientifically unsound, and I think it would be ethically questionable,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health, who has been seeking a cure for AIDS since it was first identified in the 1980s. Dr. Fauci says there is no evidence, even in countries where malaria is prevalent, that the “malariotherapy” has any effect on AIDS. “And it does have the fundamental potential of actually killing you,” Dr. Fauci says. “It can cause organ system damage; it can elevate your temperatures to the point that it can do tissue damage to you.” At various times, Dr. Heimlich has also proposed that cancer and Lyme disease could be cured with “malariotherapy.” As with AIDS, the theories have been dismissed by leading scientists.

    Radar Magazine, November 2005:
    Mekbib Wondewossen is an Ethiopian immigrant who makes his living renting out cars in the San Francisco area, but in his spare time he works for Dr. Heimlich, doing everything from “recruiting the patients to working with the doctors here and there and everywhere,” Wondewossen says. The two countries he names are Ethiopia and the small equatorial nation of Gabon, on Africa’s west coast.

    “The Heimlich Institute is part of the work there - the main people, actually, in the research,” Wondewossen says. “They’re the ones who consult with us on everything. They tell us what to do.”

    Wondewossen says that the project does not involve syringes full of malaria parasites. “We never induce the malaria,” he says. “We go to an epidemic area where there is a lot of malaria, and then we look for patients that have HIV too. We find commercial sex workers or people who play around in that area.” Such people are high-risk for HIV, and numerous studies show the virus makes its victims more vulnerable to malaria.

    A key to containing malaria is speedy treatment. In the most resource-poor areas, clinicians who lack the equipment necessary for diagnosing malaria will engage in presumptive treatment at the first signs of fever. This, says Wondewossen, runs contrary to Heimlich’s interests. What physicians in Africa usually do “is terminate the malaria quickly when someone gets sick,” he says. “But now we ask them to prolong it, and when we ask them to do that, the difference is very, very big.”

    Untreated malaria is horrible and includes periods of 105-degree fever, excessive sweating followed by chills and uncontrollable shivering, blinding headaches, vomiting, body aches, anemia, and even dementia. Heimlich’s malariotherapy literature recommends the patient go two to four weeks without treatment. Delay in treatment, warns the CDC, is a leading cause of death.

    Wondewossen say that the researchers involved in the study are not doctors. He refuses to name members of the research team, because he says it would get them into trouble with the local authorities. “The government over there is a bad government,” he says. “They can make you disappear.”

    Wondewossen won’t reveal the source of funding for this malariotherapy research. “There are private funders,” he says. But as to their identity? “I can’t tell you that, because that’s the deal we make with them, you know?” He scoffs at the question of whether his team got approval to conduct this research from a local ethics review board. Bribery on that scale, he says, is much too expensive: “If you want the government to get involved there, you have to give them a few million - and then they don’t care what you do.”

  8. anon says:

    Dr. Pippin really stepped in it!

    A good question is why is a board certified cardiologist working full-time as a quote provider for PCRM, a PETA front group?

  9. So Could says:

    Mayo be in on this lovely little dirty secret? About all the people used in China and Africa over the years? Interesting how he just failed to not respond.

  10. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    I have no opinion on malariotherapy.  I do have opinion on uninformed consent and non-consent.  If a person makes an informed decision to try malariotherapy, it’s their right to do so, no matter who else condemns it. (Ad populum?)

    The beacon aligned itself against PCRM on an issue, so is it off limits to find out the beacon’s opinion on PCRM’s agenda against animal experimentation?

  11. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) says:

    I have no opinion on their agenda against animal experimentation.

  12. Bar Belle says:

    The Senators are, of course, free to associate with PCRM and to promote their interests, but elected officials and their constituents are also entitled to be aware that all of PCRM’s activities are based on two objectives: to eliminate all research using animals and to promote veganism.

    In my opinion, PCRM is to medicine what Scientology is to religion. Also similar to Scientology, they aggressively recruit and coddle celebrities to serve as spokespeople. All their “medical experts,” like John Pippin, are in-house. In addition to Heimlich, their medical advisory board includes a number of MDs known more for their celebrity, talents at self-promotion, and dubious claims than for substantive work, ie, Andrew Weil, Dean Ornish, John McDougall, etc. 

    Take a closer look at PCRM and you quickly realize that they start with a conclusion and then work backwards using cherry-picked information that allegedly “proves” the conclusion. That, of course, is behavior more typically associated with cults than with organizations engaged in scientific inquiry.

  13. Beany N. Cecil says:

    Nice pickup (and Beacon h/t) by a worthy Green Mountain State blog. Jon Margolis is a veteran political reporter for the Chicago Tribune, now a professor at the University of Vermont.

    “Of Chimpanzees and Candidates” by Jon Margolis, Vermont News Guy:

    Earlier this week, Sen. Bernie Sanders chose as his friends an organization called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), which inspired him and two other senators to introduce legislation to phase out taxpayer-supported scientific experiments on chimpanzees.

    The senator might want to reconsider.

    Not that he or PCRM are necessarily wrong on the chimpanzee issue. According to Sanders, the animals are “no longer needed for research,” and the fact that only the U.S. and Gabon continue to hold chimpanzees for testing indicates that he has a point.

    But chimps are not PCRM’s only issue. The organization and its senior medical and research advisor John Pippin, who was quoted supporting Sanders’ bill, also advocate malariotherapy, or giving patients malaria to treat AIDS and other diseases.

    In correspondence that the Cincinnati Beacon said was written by Dr. Eric L Matteson, chair of the Division of rheumatology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, Minnesota, Matteson said the World Health Organization has condemned such treatment as “charlatanism.”

    (Dr. Matteson’s assistant, Beth Hielscher, said Dr. Matteson was on vacation until next week, and could not be reached to confirm that the correspondence was in fact his. But the Beacon a feisty independent weekly, printed what appeared to be copies of correspondence on the letterheads of both Matteson and Pippin).

    There have been other allegations that PCRM is more interested in promoting vegetarianism than in sound scientific research, and that it is allied with PETA (People for Ethical Treatment of Animals) whose scientific reliability is also open to question.

    When asked about PCRM, Sanders press secretary Michael Briggs emailed that the Senator and his aides “worked primarily with the Humane Society,” and were not aware of the controversy surrounding PCRM.

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