On October 8, 2009, a Los Angeles doctor Christine Daniels was arrested and charged by federal prosecutors with two counts of wire and mail fraud after allegedly claiming that her herbal treatments could cure cancer. Prosecutors allege that Dr. Daniels claimed her "C-Extract" was an alternative to chemotherapy and other medical cancer treatments.
Prosecutors also allege that some of those patients took "C-Extract" instead of getting conventional medical treatment. Prosecutors allege that she collected more than $1 million from patients from 2001 to 2004, some of whom later died of cancer or complications from the disease. The prosecutors further alleged that Dr. Daniels is also an ordained Pentecostal minister and that Dr. Daniels allegedly discussed her treatment on the TBN Christian cable channel and said the herbs had a “60% cure rate” and “people are living today because of our treatment.”
According to the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Daniel had already been investigated by the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Medical Board back in 2007 and that previously there was an article on the front page of the Wall Street Journal regarding the investigation.
An indictment is only an accusation is not evidence of guilt. Dr. Daniels as a defendant is presumed innocent and is entitled to a fair trial at which the government must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Attorney Comments: First, cases like this should remind alternative or complementary health care practitioners to remember to have any clients or patients sign consent forms that are quite specific as to what is being provided. For example, it is not illegal to sell Chinese herbal supplements to people that have cancer. However, if there are promises that it will heal, treat or cure a disease that can lead to issues with the FDA, Medical Board, and local law enforcement. Without written documentation signed by the patient or client, it can turn into a he said-she said situation.
Second, although I do not know the facts of this case, I am amused when the evidence showing that alternative treatments are part of a fraud is a statement by the prosecutor such as "Mrs. X took the Chinese herbs, which cost $10,000 and then died of cancer." Most conventional treatments do not truly "cure" cancer and there are many people who undergo chemotherapy and other treatments which cost $50,000 or more and then pass away from cancer.
There is a place for preventative, alternative and conventional treatments which help bolster the immune system and help one's body fight cancer cells without actually curing or treating the disease. Alternative practitioners need to be careful with the language used with clients or patients.
Third, alternative or complementary practitioners need to have their websites, brochures or public statements reviewed for compliance purposes. An attorney's opinion can help avoid future problems. Patients or clients who want conventional and alternative medicine often know what they seek and what is being promised. However, after someone passes away, the anger may come from the survivors who saw their loved one do everything to fight to live. There are some people who turn to alternative treatments when conventional medicine has failed them. Yet, when conventional medicine fails the patient, the physicians are not prosecuted.
Fourth, this case is not the typical case in that it is also a tax evasion case. Thus, there may be additional reasons why this doctor was selected for prosecution.
The United States is a place where people have choice. As an alternative health care provider, however, you need to make sure that you protect yourself from false claims that you promised to "cure" cancer, diabetes or any other disease.
Posted by Tracy Green, Esq. Any questions or comments should be directed to Tracy Green, a very experienced California naturopathic doctor attorney, Los Angeles alternative health care attorney, and Los Angeles physician attorney at email@example.com or call her at 213-233-2260
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