Emeritus Professor John Dwyer of University of New South Wales examines Universal Medicine’s controversial activities as a purported health service. He takes aim at UM’s bogus esoteric therapies, misconduct among its medical promoters, and the lack of action by regulators.
The Conversation Why consumers need better protection from dodgy health care: the case of ‘Universal Medicine’ 10 May 2018
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What needs to happen to protect consumers?
Unless a patient comes forward and can prove they’ve suffered physical harm from treatment at a Universal Medicine clinic, the NSW HCCC will not issue an order for the group to stop its program. Since 2013, the HCCC has been authorised to initiate enquiries without a patient complaint and does have the power to stop fraudulent practices but it does not use this power.
Herein lies the great weakness of our regulators’ approaches to consumer protection from health care fraud. The Conversation
I’ve been posting evidence of UM’s misconduct since September 2012, and in that time I’ve looked closely at the corporation’s nasty practices. UM’s Esoteric ‘therapies’ are not only therapeutically worthless, but actively harmful, ranging from dangerous dietary restrictions to supernatural claims about mental illness, and grubby women’s health practices, including Esoteric Breast Massage.
I’ve lodged complaints about UM’s harmful and exploitative practices with the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission. It has done nothing. In 2013 I made a submission to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry into False and Misleading Health Related Information and Practices detailing a lot of UM’s fraudulent health claims and making the case that cults actively coerce and bully victims to prevent them from reporting to authorities. Therefore the Commission needs to be proactive, recognize UM’s risk to public health, and take action to prevent further harm.
A lot of people are appalled by UM’s conduct. Professor Dwyer and I just happen to be two among of the few people willing to go on the record about it. It’s gratifying when someone of his calibre backs what I’ve been saying for years. Professor Dwyer is the former head of the Department of Medicine at the University of New South Wales. He was also a Professor of Immunology at Yale University for 15 years.
The article, of course, was not his first public comment about UM. Here he is on Channel 7 in 2012.
He wrote a critique of Esoteric Breast Massage in Australasian Scientist in 2013, and, on behalf of the organization he heads, Friends of Science in Medicine, which is a network of 1300 doctors and other supporters, made submissions to the NSW Parliamentary Inquiry when I did. He raised the problem of UM’s spiritually invested doctors at the Inquiry hearing.
Since then, the official findings of Dr Sam Kim’s misconduct, and the investigation into UM followers’ academic misconduct at the University of Queensland have publicly demonstrated our concerns were justified.
If Universal Medicine had an atom of the integrity they boast of, they would have heeded criticism from Professor Dwyer. They would have acknowledged the numerous regulatory findings by the Charities Commissions in Australia and the UK, the ATO, the Psychology Board of Australia, the NSW Medical Council, and the Information and Privacy Commission of NSW. They would have absorbed the findings, examined their operations and taken steps to clean up their act. But they haven’t. They’ve continued to vindicate our concerns by denying any fault and by launching a fresh onslaught of irrational ad hominem attacks on complainants, journalists and anyone who challenges them.
Which can only have one outcome.
More scrutiny. More disrepute. More disgrace for them.