Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Hulda Clark: S.D. firm, Swiss affiliate settle lawsuit over cancer cure claims

S.D. firm, Swiss affiliate settle lawsuit over cancer cure claims
By Penni Crabtree

December 2, 2004

A San Diego company and an affiliated Swiss firm have settled a federal lawsuit that alleged they made fraudulent health claims about devices and herbs marketed as a cure for cancer.

The settlement with the Federal Trade Commission requires the Dr. Clark Research Association and its Swiss unit, Dr. Clark Behandlungszentrum, to stop making unsubstantiated health claims about products developed by Hulda Clark, a San Diego County woman who operates out of a Tijuana clinic.

The two companies and their sole officer, Swiss citizen David Amrein, also must offer refunds to consumers who purchased the bogus treatment devices, which include a low-voltage, battery-operated machine called the "zapper" and a device called the "syncrometer."

Clark, who was not named in the FTC lawsuit, has authored several books that claim that the syncrometer can diagnose diseases, while the zapper cures them by eliminating parasites and toxins with a mild electric current.

Amrein is one of several distributors who market the products, largely over the Internet. The two companies named in the FTC lawsuit had sales of more than $2 million from 2000 to 2003, according to court documents.

Amrein did not respond to e-mails or telephone calls to his San Diego office. Hulda Clark could not be reached for comment at New Century Press, the Chula Vista publishing company Clark purchased in 1997 to publish her books.

Among the products Amrein offered were the "21-day Program for Advanced Cancers," which sold for $1,850 and promised "amazing results in hopeless cases." A three-month Diabetes Recovery Program, complete with zapper, sold for $800.

The Web site for the San Diego-based Dr. Clark Research Association claims its goal is to "validate Dr. Clark's treatment protocol through research studies," but FTC attorneys said in court documents that the company was "misnamed."

The association conducted no research from its founding in 1998 to 2001, and the only research performed on a key product, the syncrometer, was an unsuccessful attempt to find resonance in a block of metal, according to the FTC.

Despite the FTC settlement, Amrein continues to sell the dubious products over the Internet. Under a previous, temporary agreement with the FTC, Amrein has maintained separate Web sites – one for information on Clark and the claims made in her books and the other for selling products. The sites don't contain references to each other or provide cross links.

"The FTC doesn't prohibit people from selling things, just from making false claims about them," FTC attorney Michael Milgrom said.

Milgrom said the FTC settlement doesn't sanction or prohibit the separate Web site arrangement. The FTC will continue to monitor the companies' activities, he said.

In 2001, the FTC settled fraud charges with another company, Blaine, Wash.-based Western Herb, that used the Internet to sell the zapper and other products touted by Clark.

Clark's Tijuana-based alternative medicine clinic, Century Nutrition, was shut down in early 2001 by Baja California health officials for operating without a license. It later was allowed to reopen but was prohibited from offering alternative treatments.


More information:

Swiss Company to Provide Refund to U.S. Consumers