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$25k fine for GP who claimed to cure cancer with herbs

6th Dec 2013
Byron Kaye   all articles by this author

A GP who claimed he could cure cancer with green tea extracts and a special diet has been fined $25,000, and his patients forced to read a consent form if they are to be treated by him.

Perth-based Dr William Barnes admitted to advertising on a website that his “non toxic herbal and nutritional treatment” was an “alternative treatment for cancer”, the Medical Board of Australia said in orders made in October. The matter was resolved by consent, and the judgement provided to MO by the board. 

The advertisement claimed Dr Barnes’ treatment comprised oral and/or intravenous administration of green tea polyphenols, genistein from soy beans, curcumin from turmeric, quercetin, vitamin C, selenium, “anti-cancer herbs”, and “mineral replacements” following hair analysis and a diet, the board said.

“At all times while the advertisement was maintained… neither the treatment alone or in combination was recognised by competent medical practitioners or oncologists as proper or effective treatment for cancer,” the board said.

“There was no sound scientific basis upon which the respondent could truthfully represent to patients, prospective patients and members of the public the claim that the treatment could cure cancer.”

The board added that the advertisement could mislead cancer patients, putting them at risk of delaying or refusing effective cancer treatment.

Dr Barnes was formally reprimanded for acting “improperly”, banned from advertising unproven cancer treatments and ordered to pay the fine.

He was also ordered to have any patients with cancer read a form stating that he supported “treatment provided by oncologists [including] chemotherapy and other drug therapy”.

The consent form states that the patient “understand[s] that there is no evidence that taking any of these substances or receiving them intravenously will cure my cancer or slow the progression of my cancer”.

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