Maryland medical board upholds autism doctor's suspension
Geneticist has used hormone-suppressing drug to treat kids
Dr. Mark Geier, right, listens to his attorney Jay Schwartz talk with a reporter after the hearing. (Jed Kirschbaum/The Baltimore Sun)
Dr. Mark Geier, who holds medical licenses in states across the nation, including Illinois, was the subject of a 2009 Tribune investigation into his "Lupron protocol," which involves injecting children with high doses of a drug sometimes used to chemically castrate sex offenders. Experts told the Tribune the protocol is risky and based on junk science.
The Maryland board issued a summary suspension order on April 27, alleging that Geier misdiagnosed children with autism, failed to fully inform their parents of the risks and misrepresented his credentials.
On Wednesday, Geier appeared at a hearing to ask the Maryland board to lift its summary suspension. Through his attorney, he presented affidavits from parents thanking him for treating their children, affirming they had been fully informed and denying their children had been misdiagnosed.
Geier also presented scientific evidence he said supported his protocol. The evidence included studies conducted by a researcher who told the Tribune, in 2009, that the idea of treating children with autism with Lupron "fills me with horror."
The board voted to uphold its summary suspension, said Geier's attorney, Joseph A. Schwartz III.
"I'm angry, but I'm also sad," Geier said afterward. "I don't want my patients to have to go to institutions when this therapy works."
Geier, a fixture in a movement that continues to believe that vaccines cause autism, said he is being targeted because of his outspokenness on vaccines.
"There are forces trying to shut down our comments," he said.
More than a dozen studies have failed to find a link between vaccines and autism.
Schwartz said he will file an appeal aiming to present evidence to an administrative law judge. But that judge's decision would not be binding, he said. The whole process is unfair, he said, adding that the medical board is "the indicter, prosecutor and judge."
Schwartz said representatives from two other states had contacted him about either investigating or suspending Geier's licenses there. He declined to name the states.
"It's not over yet," said Kathleen Seidel, who wrote extensively about Geier on her blog, neurodiversity.com. "I hope that the other states where Dr. Geier is licensed will follow Maryland's example, that his business partners won't just take over his patients, and that Medicaid, Tricare and private insurers will turn off the money spigot that's kept it all going."
Tsouderos is a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, Cohn for The Baltimore Sun.