MR. UNGAR: I am Mark Ungar. I am Executive Director of the ADD Action Group and we're not a non-profit organization that helps people find alternative solutions for Attention Deficit Disorder, Dyslexia, Autism, Hyperactivity and Learning Differences. We have support meetings throughout the New York State area to help people. They are free meetings. We have new letters to inform people about solutions that might, they need to be searching for. We have a syndicated television show and public access that helps people resource information.
We have a membership of people who are specifically seeking alternative and non-drug solutions for these issues. Part of our emission statement is that we believe that medication should be used on these particular issues as a last resort not the first approach.
Just to give you an idea of what's going on across the United States let alone in New York. I will read you some quotes. Over two million US schools in the US were prescribed stimulant drugs, over two million right now in the United States.
A wide ranging survey which was reported in the New York Times by the International Narcotics Control Board indicates that over 10 to 12% of all boys in the United States between the age of 6 and 14 were using the prescription drug Ritalin. Use of Ritalin increased from 3 tons in 1990 to 8 and a half tons in 1994. It was still rising up to this date. 90% of this drug is consumed in the United States.
One of the other things that our organization does is we help the school system, particularly New York City help the staff in New York City find alternatives for parents. We help to educate the staff in New York City about what new technologies are out there that are helping people with these issues. The schools contact us. They ask us to come in and do lectures and things like that. Of course we oblige. We are happy to give out that information.
The resources that we help parents with, teachers, or even other doctors are resources of doctors who practice what's known as alternative medicine, which may but also may not include medication. They include all kinds of different modalities, which could range from biofeedback to nutritional therapy. In some cases behavioral modification. Parents are seeking our organization and seeking this kind of therapy more and more. We have increased our membership threefold in the last two years. Because it's a very, very large problem.
Parents dealing with these issues of ADD for example have expressed quite an alarming concern over this whole process in the news about the disciplinary process of physicians and physicians assistants with regard to them practicing alternative medicine. Although even by the National Institute of Mental Health has concluded that they cannot find any definitive reason why ADD or ADHD exists, they're also concluded that there may not be also one solution such as medication. Which has typically been in this country the medication of choice.
In the early 1990's, actually it was the later 90's the organization CHAD which is the Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder and other psychiatric establishments were part of a class action lawsuit because they were found by a process which I was part of to have promoted the medication and CHAD is supposed to be a support group organization. They were found to be pushing the medication as opposed to offering non-drug solutions. It was also found that CHAD, which is supposed to be a non-profit organization, non-partial had not disclosed to their members, which are the parents that they had been receiving funds from Norvdis who is the maker of Ritalin. Which came out to about $800,000. Parents were alarmed at that.
Our organization basically helps people find the resources, which may include doctors or may include just videos and books. But also just plain old support groups. Because there is not one solution, because there is not one reason why these conditions exist, there is not one solution. There are many doctors that I know of personally that have helped and a lot of parents have contacted me personally and thanked me for their resource in referring them to either a doctor or a resource that does not include medication. Many of those doctors are here in this room as well.
The issue here that concerns parents and I speak on behalf of the parents especially in my organization, that they are concerned about the process here about how doctors may have their license taken away because they are practicing a from of medicine that may be more beneficial than just masking symptoms with medication. I think that's it right now on what I have to say. Thank you.
ASSEMBLYMAN GOTTFRIED: Dr. Gantt.
DR. GANTT: Yes. I want to thank the committee today for giving me this rare opportunity to speak. Chairman Gottfried thank you very much. My name is Charles Gantt. I am a physician. Today I am speaking for my patients who want to be healed not just have their symptoms covered over. I am speaking for the other two physicians in my county who offered their patients something more than drug therapies but who no longer practice medicine because of OPMC prosecution. I am speaking for the patients and the patients of other physicians like them who are afraid or were warned as I was that they would pay a dear price for speaking out here today. I am speaking for patients and physicians who would like to understand more about the safer natural science based and more cost effective medicine that I practice and they do not know where to turn for answers.
I believe the fundamental issue that we are dealing with here today is actually the fundamental cause of the health care crisis itself. That issue concerns the tension between quality assurance and innovation. Health care professionals on each side must find ways to recognize the need and the right for their counterparts to exist in order to bring the best case possible to those we serve.
The reason we are here today is to investigate ways to mitigate this tension while recognizing that it will never completely disappear. Medical innovators like me are out of the box thinkers, creative clinicians who are developing better ways to heal patients.
Quality assurance professionals like those who work for the OPMC are in the box thinkers trying to make sure that everyone stays in the box and meets certain standards of care. Innovators are necessary to prevent medical care from stagnating and to make major advances. Quality assurance professionals are necessary to prevent impaired, dishonest or abusive clinicians from hurting the public. Medical innovators often resent quality assurance professionals because they pose an obstacle to their authentic healing practices and their freedom to innovate further. Quality assurance professionals often resent medical innovators because they are seen as a threat to the standards of care they are trying to enforce. To some extent this will always be so. So what is the problem?
The problem exists in New York State and to varying degrees elsewhere in the US and the western world, is one of the quality between innovation and quality assurance. A 50-50 relationship would be ideal with room for each side to carry out its mission and to work out their differences with the other side with respect to negotiation. Unfortunately our health care system is 99% quality assurance and 1% innovation. The 1994 Alternative Medical Practices Act boldly attempted to establish some balance between quality assurance and innovation but unfortunately it did not go anywhere near far enough.
The contemporary measure of quality of care is termed outcome or evidence based care which means that our opinions about the standards of care in medicine do not matter as much as the results we achieve. If what sounds perfectly logical doesn't work it should be abandoned. If an apparently illogical form of care like homeopathy nevertheless works it should be used. Results are results.
So the question is does our health care system work? If it does work then perhaps we should not change the relationship between quality assurance and innovation at all. However, if our health care system does not work then we might want to investigate this relationship carefully. Because if innovators have indeed found some important solutions to much of human suffering and we are made unable to provide these solutions to our patients due to well intentioned but overzealous quality assurance professionals, unfathomable human suffering will result.
Does the health care system work? Consider out based evidence and judge for yourself. Despite the fact that the US spends more per capita on health care than any country in the world, according to the World health Report 2000 Health Systems of the World Health Organization we rank as follows.
Overall health system performance number 37 in the world. Overall level of health number 72 in the world. Disability adjusted life expectance number 24 in the world. Equity of child survival number 32 in the world. Overall health system attainment, the Who index, the 1997 number 15 in the world and dropping. I have given you the websites where that data can be found.
A recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association asked this question and found the US to next to last place compared to 13 western nations. I understand Germany was mentioned earlier in the testimonies. Germany was in last place. Our health care system itself was found to be the third leading cause of death. This is in the Journal of the American Medical Association behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. Overwhelming due to lethal reactions from properly prescribed drugs. This would strongly suggest that we do not need more quality assurance regulation to prevent physician mistakes but less quality assurance prosecution of innovative doctors who have developed effective drug free methods of treatment.
Several years ago I developed drug free treatments for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Being concerned with the over prescribing of potentially brain injurious and addictive, cocaine like and amphetamine like substances to children, my outcome based pilot studies in Syracuse and Boston suggested that treatments with nutritional supplements were at least equal in efficacy to that of Ritalin.
I applied the principles of Orthomolecular Medicine, a term coined by Linus Pauling, the only person to win two different unshared Noble Prizes and arguably the greatest American scientist of the 20th Century.
We Orthomolecular Medicine physicians basically use certified laboratory testing to find excesses or deficiencies in two types of molecules in the body, nutrients like vitamins or toxins like lead and based on that testing replace the missing nutrients and rid the body of toxins. This approach appears to work for ADHD as well as for many chronic medical problems.
Some time later I received a letter from the health Department indicating that I had been noticed to be practicing medicine in an unusual manner. Who noticed? Who defines unusual? I had violated the accepted standards of care. In other words I had violated the accepted from of treatment for ADHD that is drug treatment.
I was ordered to produce charts for the OPMC but the charts reflected the success of my Orthomolecular Medicine care for various conditions which created a dilemma for the OPMC. Those charts apparently could not be used to prosecute me further because of Education Law Section 6527, subsection 4e that basically says that a physician can't be prosecuted for non-conventional care if it works.
Therefore an invasion of my office was ordered to pour through all of my office records to find charts of patients that were only in the earliest stages of treatment thus avoiding the problem that the education law presented. Nine patient charts were ultimately chosen and charges were drawn up. Unfortunately for the OPMC six of the nine patients ultimately did engage in my Orthomolecular Medicine treatments and improved dramatically.
A patient's prostate cancer was reversed and arrested. A patient with disabling severe fibromyalgia is relatively pain free and has the energy to work again. A vegetative, severely autistic child has been educationally mainstreamed. A child with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis is medication free and completely asymptomatic. A teenager with chronic sinusitis and migraines on nine medications is off medication and has fewer headaches. Another teenager with chronic life threatening gastritis and colitis is completely well. Those were the worst examples they could find in all my records.
Also, the charges written as on or about such and such dates and subsequently mistakenly included the words and subsequently which meant that the charges could not be isolated to a brief period of time early in treatment before the patients had a chance to get well to avoid violating the entanglements of the updated Education Law.
Later during the hearings when we finally had our chance to rebut the charges the and subsequently phrase permitted us to present one patient after another as benefiting extensively from Orthomolecular Medicine care. After three patients because of OPMC strident objections, the judge decided to essentially change the charges in thee middle of the hearing and instructed to court to ignore the and subsequently clause presumably because the OPMC didn't actually mean it and it would be too embarrassing for the OPMC if every single treated patient got well.
Last September after four years of interrogations, 17 day long hearings and office raid and hundreds of thousands of dollars of legal fees and expenses the state's hand picked panel, which by now was found to be illegally constituted by the Supreme Court in the Oren's decision, found that I was not a danger to anyone in fact I was quite knowledgeable, but that I was morally unfit. Why? I was guilty of something that is not illegal and that we proved I did not even do. That is benefiting from the sale of supplements to my patients. Also the OPMC found a website unknown to me done by somebody else that stated I was trained in family practice and psychiatry which is true. The statement was thought to immoral because they believed it implied that I was board certified.
Anyway, the morally unfit verdict of the illegally constituted panel was publicized in my community in the media by the OPMC clearly in an attempt at character defamation. My license was supposed to be suspended for six months but after a month of suspension the Supreme Court kindly granted me a stay of suspension pending my appeal and I have three 92 page exhibits for committee members if they would like to have those.
Nevertheless, due to the negative publicity many patients stopped coming and many professionals stopped referring patients. Labs refused to honor my request for patient testing. Insurance companies stopped covering the cost of my clinical visits and threatened audits and reviews. The economic injury of four years was compounded by dramatic decreases in patient visits. I am now essentially bankrupt with one son in college and another on the way.
Still with some persistence I am happy to report that after a slow five months my practice is up and booming again simply because too many people now know that Orthomolecular Medicine works. Despite the efforts of the Health Department to destroy my practice I have just released another book. I am more than ever getting hopelessly sick patients well and I am better than ever at doing it. I feel like the luckiest doctor who ever lived. This, despite the fact that the OPMC has just subpoenaed the records on two more patients and they are starting the process all over again.
I would characterize my appeal to the Supreme Court as a seven count indictment of eh OPMC and summarize it as follows.
There was an illegal constitution of the panel. It's in here, facts 10 through 16. That's section 230, subsection 6 of the Public Health Law.
The medical experts were not consulted. Facts 17 through 25. That is out of Section 230, subsection 10(a)(ii) of the Public Health Law.
I could not call patient witnesses. Facts 26 through 30 in the appeal. Denial of the right to call witnesses in one's defense, when the OPMC used statements from the same witnesses to prosecute me.
Time periods of charges were altered. The and subsequently clause was ignored. Facts 31 through 33. The charges were altered midway through the trail to prevent defense from proving that the public Health Department had actually violated Education Law.
The panel decided that there was no factual basis for all of the serious invented initial charges. Facts 34 through 43. Even in the legally constituted biased panel, that was illegally prevented from hearing critical facts to mount an effective defense, decided that the OPMC's important series charges were fabrications.
I was held to the standards of care that do not exist. Facts 44 through 50. This is reminiscent of the trials during the Inquisition or the witch hunt eras where charges of blasphemy and Satanism were ill defined and the ultimate determination of guilt or innocence is left up to the imaginations of whatever authority held power.
Effectively treats disease clause was ignored. Facts 50 through 54. That's violation of Education Law Section 6527, subsection 4e.
I believe that the quality assurance minded people at the OPMC, their medical experts, the panel members, the judges and the prosecutor are all decent people and that they all have an intention to improve the quality of health care in the US. However, none of them even the doctors had much knowledge of Human biochemistry and had no context from which to understand Orthomolecular Medicine. As I once suffered in my earlier career they all suffer from an indoctrinated aversion and distrust of medical care. That is nutritional supplements that violates their sacred indefinable accepted standards of care.
I do not think they can be reformed because in the box thinkers cannot easily become out of the box innovators. They will go on perceiving innovators as being as much of a threat to quality assurance, as abusive, impaired physicians could be. That is why I am black listed to this day on the Health Department's website as a discipline doctor right there with the impaired doctors, the sexual abusers and the thieves. As morally unfit, negligent, incompetent and fraudulent even though that decision was rendered by an illegally constituted panel that threw out the serious fabricated charges.
Therefore the best we can hope for is better laws to keep the OPMC and Quality Assurance Professionals in check so that a 50-50 balanced relationship can be established with us out of the box innovators. Help us by bringing some balance to the health care system then sit back and watch us make the health care system in New York State and the US number one in the world.
ASSEMBLYMAN GOTTFRIED: Thank you very much. So Dr. Gantt the status of your case right now is what?
DR. GANTT: I have been granted a stay of the suspension pending the results of the Supreme Court decision. That may be held up because the Health Department is trying very difficult to cut us off at the pass so to speak and trying to reverse the Oren's decision which has now moved up to the Court of Appeals. Probably the Supreme Court in my case will wait for that decision to be handed down before taking up my case.
ASSEMBLYMAN GOTTFRIED: It's I suppose a small matter but despite the stay of the suspension, that suspension is still listed on the Department's website?
DR. GANTT: If you look hard enough buried down in the website there is a brief statement saying that the suspension has been stayed. But what is right up front on the website is the determination of the panel with it's final conclusion that I am morally unfit and negligent and all that.
ASSEMBLYMAN GOTTFRIED: That's interesting. So the suspension is listed but at some point there is a footnote or something that says it's been stayed?
DR. GANTT: Well I wouldn't call it a footnote but it was harder for me to find when I put my name and searched my name which is what most patients or what most of the public does. It just puts the doctor's name in and searches for the information. What is there is the full determination of the panel that was handed down at the end of August.
ASSEMBLYMAN GOTTFRIED: And where is, how is reference to the stay presented?
DR. GANTT: I don't remember how I searched and how I got to it but it took me a bunch of surfing and clicking around to get to it.
ASSEMBLYMAN GOTTFRIED: So if you simply look at the suspension statement on the website you won't find the reference to the stay?
DR. GANTT: That's correct. I couldn't.
ASSEMBLYMAN GOTTFRIED: You have got to know to go somewhere else?
DR. GANTT: Yes.
ASSEMBLYMAN GOTTFRIED: Okay. Thank you. Questions?
A VOICE: One question. Can I have your card?