Monday, April 29, 2019

"Physicians group" or "fanatical animal rights" activists? My letter today to Brown University Medical School re: the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


About a month ago I blogged, Did animal rights activist Dr. Neal Barnard fund the Heimlich Institute's notorious "malariotherapy" experiments on US Lyme Disease patients? Would his organization have protested the dog lab research that produced "the Heimlich"? My letter to the Mayo Clinic about my dad's problematic 30-year relationship with PCRM.

Between the hash marks are excerpts from a similar letter I sent today. Click here for a copy via my Scribd account.


Jeremiah Schuur, MD, MHS
Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine
The Alpert Medical School of Brown University
Providence, Rhode Island 02912

Jessica Smith MD
Director, Emergency Medicine Residency Program
Rhode Island Hospital
593 Eddy Street
Providence, RI 02903

Dear Drs. Schuur and Smith:

I’m the son of the late Henry J. Heimlich MD, known for the Heimlich maneuver anti-choking treatment.

...One of my research/reporting interests is the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a high-profile Washington, DC nonprofit that’s been around since 1985. Per my website, I’ve also been a public critic of PCRM because of their problematic 30-year relationship with my dad.

...My Google News alert sent me this April 24, 2019 WPRO News story by Steve Klamkin, Physicians group protests live animal use in medical training who reported:
A Washington D.C. – based physicians group waged a protest outside Rhode Island Hospital Wednesday, calling for an end to the use of live animals in joint training with Brown University of emergency medicine residents.

“The skill acquisition and skill retention is just as good if not better with the simulators than with the live animals,” said Dr. Kerry Foley, a retired emergency medical physician with the group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.
I also come across this February 1, 2019 Brown Daily Herald article by Cate Ryan, University affiliated residency program accused of violating federal act – Use of live pigs in research breaches Animal Welfare Act, advocacy group alleges who reported:
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine called for federal regulators from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to look into animal use at the Warren Alpert Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital.

...John Pippin, the PCRM’s director of academic affairs, told the Associated Press he is confident that the University violated the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Act includes a clause stating that research involving animals must involve consideration of “alternatives to any procedure likely to produce pain to or distress in an experimental animal.”
I thought I’d take the opportunity to share with you information which in my opinion raises reasonable questions about the organization’s integrity.

Via PCRM’s website:
The Physicians Committee is dedicated to saving and improving human and animal lives through plant-based diets and ethical and effective scientific research.
Via a 2011 column, junk science debunker Joseph A."Dr. Joe" Schwarcz PhD, Director of McGill University's Office for Science and Society, expressed this somewhat different opinion:
I consider PCRM to be a fanatical animal rights group with a clear cut agenda of promoting a vegan lifestyle and eliminating all animal experimentation.
In any event, via numerous published articles from 1994 to the present which I’ve compiled on my blog, PCRM has been called an “animal rights” activist group. If accurate, presumably that perspective influenced their protests of your institution.

Perhaps related, Dr. Pippin, explained his moral philosophy in a profile published in the Spring 2011 issue of American Dog magazine (emphasis added); click here to download a copy of the article:
“Animals have nobody but the animal protection community between them and egregious misuse, abuse, and death at the hands of our species,” (Dr. John Pippin) says. “For those of us with true hearts for animals, such evils as eating, wearing, fighting, breeding, imprisoning, hunting, and experimenting on our animal kin must be ended.”

For the past six years, Dr. Pippin has worked full time with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine…
My letter goes on to discuss:

1) PCRM's reckless promotion of my dad's thoroughly-discredited claims that abdominal thrusts (the Heimlich maneuver) should be used to resuscitate near-drowning victims. Research by my wife and me revealed it was a 40-year scam based entirely on bogus case reports in which, according to my dad, drowning victims were "miraculously revived" by bystanders -- two of whom were longtime cronies of my father, a fact none of them disclosed.

The result of their folly? Per the Washington Post, dozens of poor outcome cases have been associated with the treatment. Even after the treatment was thoroughly-discredited and the phony cases were exposed, PCRM founder/president Neal Barnard MD -- a non-practicing physician trained as a psychiatrist --continued to recommend the treatment.

2) For decades, Dr. Barnard and his organization which claims to promote "ethical and effective scientific research," turned a blind eye to Cincinnati's Heimlich Institute's notorious offshore human experiments in which US and foreign nationals suffering from cancer, Lyme Disease, and AIDS were infected with malaria.

My father, who had no training in immunology called the quack treatment "malariotherapy" and credited Julius Wagner-Jauregg, an early 20th century German eugenicist and Nazi sympathizer as his inspiration.

Here's how Cyndi Monahan, a New Jersey Lyme Disease patient described the treatment via a June 1991 American Health article, Heimlich's Maneuver?
"Within two days I started to get fevers as high as 106 degrees"...After Monahan's return from Mexico City, life consisted of hours of fever followed by chills - and intense pain. "My lower back felt like a truck slammed into it and I found that a malaria headache is the most excruciating pain you can imagine." Her New Jersey doctor allowed the malaria to persist untreated for five weeks. During that time she logged 130 "fever hours," when her temperature exceeded 101 degrees. She vomited constantly, lost 40 lb. and required intravenous fluids to compensate for dehydration. "We went until my body couldn't take it anymore," she recalled, "and then I took the antimalarial drug"...
"I'm going back for another treatment," she says. "Dr. Heimlich told me I may have to do it again. He's made all the arrangements with the doctors in Panama."
As it happens, per this May 30 1991 letter donated by my dad to the University of Cincinnati’s Henry J. Heimlich Archival Collection, Dr. Barnard may have helped finance Ms. Monahan’s “treatment.”

3) Finally, my letter documented how in the early 1970s ago my father developed the Heimlich maneuver using dogs as research models and I posed this devil’s advocate question.
Since dad used the beagles in his research, if PCRM had been around at the time would Dr. Barnard and his organization have attempted to shut down the research and thereby presumably derail the development of the Heimlich maneuver which, according to PCRM’s remembrance of my father, “has saved countless lives”?

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Ongoing editorial exodus of medical professionals from masthead of "predatory" London-based journal [UPDATED 4/27/19]


Via $50-million fine for predatory publisher that swallowed up Canadian science journals by Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen, April 4, 2019: 
A judge in Nevada has fined the world’s biggest publisher of fake science journals more than $50 million, quoting evidence from this newspaper that helped demonstrate the publisher’s deceptive practices.

Omics International, based in India, operates more than 700 science journals. In recent years, it has bought up two reputable science Canadian publishers — Pulsus Group and Andrew John Publishing — and converted them to companies that will publishing anything for cash.
On April 22, I blogged Medical journals published by "predatory" publisher claim three University of Toronto faculty members are editors -- here's the university's reply after I asked about that, about a couple Pulsus Group journals, Diabetes Management and Clinical Practice (Therapy).

The university replied that the journals' claims were inaccurate and that the three faculty members were instructing the journals to remove their names from the mastheads.

Per my item, recently when I asked Sally Richardson, a faculty member at London's Kingston/St. George's Universities about her name on the masthead of another Pulsus property, the International Journal of Clinical Skills (IJOCS), she replied:
My name shouldn’t be on this list as I haven’t been part of this journal for many years and will have my name removed.
(Yesterday I reported this item about the editorial policy at IJOCS, "Predatory" London-based medical journal: Publication dates of our articles & authors' names are "confidential.")

I thought it would be interesting to learn if other editors on the IJOCS masthead -- there are about two dozen -- were still affiliated with the journal.

As a trial run, this week I wrote to media reps at the four institutions highlighted below.

Today I received the first response re: Dr.. Vinod Patel at the University of Warwick, Coventry. I've posted that below this screenshot and will add responses from the others if/when they reply.

Thu, 25 Apr 2019 13:29:05 +0000

Dear Peter,

Professor Patel has not had any involvement with this journal for the past five years, and has therefore contacted the journal to have his name removed from the editorial board.

Kind regards,

Peter Thorley
Media Relations Manager (Warwick Medical School and Department of Physics) | Press & Media Relations | University of Warwick
Email: | Tel: 024 761 50868 | Mob: +44 (0) 7824 540863 | | University House | Coventry | CV4 8UW | Find us on the interactive map

4/27/19 e-mail to me:

Hi, thanks for getting in touch. FYI, I was on the Editorial Board of the IJOCS from its inception, as were several UK-based colleagues, and I seem to remember receiving hard copy of the first few issues. However I was never asked to do anything 'editorial', eg reviewing papers, attending meetings, offering comment, and quite frankly forgot all about it. I retired over four years ago, so have had no reason to think about it and obviously had no idea of the backstory you describe. I have contacted the journal to ask for my name to be removed from the Board membership list with immediate effect. Good luck with your endeavours!

Best wishes, John Spencer


Emeritus Professor John Spencer
Newcastle upon Tyne

4/26/19 statement from Melanoma Institute, Sydney, Australia via Jennifer Durante, Head of Communications & Fundraising

Associate Professor Robyn Saw is a Faculty Member of Melanoma Institute Australia. Associate Professor Saw has never been associated with the International Journal of Clinical Skills (IJOCS) publication, and has never authorised use of her name as ‘editor’ on the publication masthead. Melanoma Institute Australia requests Assoc Professor Saw’s name be immediately removed from the IJOCS editorial masthead, and all other references in relation to the publication, or legal action will be considered.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

"Predatory" London-based medical journal: Publication dates of our articles & authors' names are "confidential"


On April 12, I blogged "Fully Published" or "In Press"? My search for an elusive UK medical journal leads to a recent $50m court judgement against a "predatory publisher," chronicling my attempt to verify information about a research study published by the London-based International Journal of Clinical Skills (IJOCS). 

Among other surprises, that odyssey led to my discovery that IJOCS is owned by Omics International, a "predatory" publisher that recently was fined $50m by a federal judge in Nevada.

The undated study briefly described ten cases in which an anti-choking plunger device called the LifeVac had  saved the lives of choking victims in Wales, the US, the UK, Spain, and Greece.

I sent some related questions about the LifeVac study and IJOCS's editorial policy to Srinubabu Gedela, Omics International's CEO & Managing Director.

This morning I received this e-mail which I'm publishing as-is with very minor editing for clarity. 

Date: Tue, 23 Apr 2019 18:16:54 +0530
Subject: Re: blogger inquiry

Dear Peter,

This is to inform you that the "International Journal of Clinical Skills" is an Hybrid Open access journal, and moreover we are not supposed to disclose the journal information to other than authors.

Here we appended the best possible answers for your queries:

1) My understanding is that the IJOCS will not provide the publication date of articles without the approval of authors of the articles. Is my understanding correct? If not, what is the publishing date of Volume 12, Issue 2 of the IJOCS?

Re: Our journal will not disclose the publishing dates on any of the published articles as like the other journals of our publisher (for your reference, you can crosscheck with the Diabetes Management)

For your reference we are disclosing the published date: Nov 13, 2018

As we will release the issues once we have the enough articles to publish with in the issue.

3) What are the full names of the four New York City-area authors of this article published in Volume 12, Issue 2 of the IJOCS?

Re: We can not disclose teh full names of the authors as it is confidential concern and against the norms of the journal.

If you have any concerns regarding the article, let us know and kindly do not elaborate it.

Aviron R
Journal Coordinator
International Journal of Clinical Skills

Although Mr. R cannot disclose the names of the New York City-area authors, a July 10, 2018 LifeVac press release fills in one of the four blanks:
A peer review of LifeVac was recently accepted to the International Journal of Clinical Skills. Dalia Moradi Saperstein authored the contribution, titled "Successful Use of a Novel device called the LifeVac to Resuscitate a Choking Victim–Worldwide Results."

Monday, April 22, 2019

Medical journals published by "predatory" publisher claim three University of Toronto faculty members are editors -- here's the university's reply after I asked about that [UPDATE: The three faculty members names have been removed from the publications' mastheads]

As I blogged about a week ago, in the course of reporting about a study published in the International Journal of Clinical Skills (IJOCS), I learned the journal is published by Pulsus Group, a company which has a London address, but is owned by Omics International. 

For more about Pulsus and Omics, the headlines of these two first-rate articles should provide some focus.

Medical Journals Have a Fake News Problem: With help from drug companies, Omics International is making millions as it roils the scientific community with sketchy publications by Esmé E. Deprez and Caroline Chen, Bloomberg News, August 29, 2017.

$50-million fine for predatory publisher that swallowed up Canadian science journals by Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen, April 4, 2019.

Per my item, Sally Richardson -- a faculty member at Kingston/St George’s University London -- was listed as "Senior Associate Editor" on the IJOCS's  masthead. 

In response to my inquiry, she replied, "My name shouldn’t be on this list as I haven’t been part of this journal for many years and will have my name removed." 

Sure enough, within a couple of days, her name vanished from the IJOCS masthead.

That got me wondering if mastheads on other Pulsus journals might also be inaccurate. 

Pulsus publishes IJOCS via, so I started with the first journal listed on their website, Diabetes Management, whose masthead includes:

...and on the Editorial Advisory Board:

I've never reported about Dr. Denis Daneman, but I recognized Dr. David Jenkins's name  from a story I blogged a couple years ago about his involvement with a failed nutrition rating system called NuVal. He's a prominent name in the field of nutrition science, so I was curious to learn more about his role at Diabetes Management.

Are other University of Toronto faculty on mastheads of other journals in the stable? 

A quick search led me to the masthead for another of their journals, Clinical Practice (Therapy), whose Editorial Board includes:

Last week I wrote Philippe Devos, the university's Media Relations Director, and asked him if he'd ask the three professors if the information on the mastheads was accurate.

This afternoon he replied:
In response to your questions, the University of Toronto has the following response:

Denis Daneman resigned all editorial associations with the journal Diabetes Management in August of 2016.

David Jenkins cannot recall ever agreeing to serve on the Editorial Advisory Board of the journal Diabetes Management.

Bruce G. Pollock resigned all editorial associations with Clinical Practice (Therapy) in 2014.

We will be contacting the journals in question to request the names of these faculty members be removed from the respective mastheads.

Further, we have found the following contact info for Diabetes Management.

Daphne Boulicault, Commissioning Editor,, Unitec House, 2 Albert Place, London, N3 1QB, UK, +44 (0)20 8371 6090

Jeanette Hedgson, Journal Coordinator, Diabetes Management,

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.
More to come...

UPDATE, 4/25/19:

Drs. Daneman and Jenkins have been removed the masthead of Diabetes Managment.

Dr. Pollock has been removed from the masthead of Clinical Practice (Therapy).

Friday, April 12, 2019

"Fully Published" or "In Press"? My search for an elusive UK medical journal leads to a recent $50m court judgement against a "predatory publisher" [UPDATE: After I published this item yesterday then sent it to the UK journal, they updated their website which now shows the article about the ten LifeVac choking rescue cases as published last year!]

Via today's Wikipedia entry for Pulsus Group

As Sidebar readers know, one of my research/reporting interests is anti-choking devices that have been marketed over the decades.

One such product is the LifeVac, a widely-marketed suction device that's the brainchild of Arthur Lih (pronounced "Lee") of Massapequa, NY.


Via After son's choking death, Fennimore [WI] family hopes to prevent further tragedy by Bennet Goldstein, Dubuque (IA) Telegraph Herald, February 16, 2019:
Each [LifeVac] unit sells online for about $70.

...The Wisconsin Department of Health Services approved use of the device by the Fennimore Volunteer Rescue Squad last year.
Per this tweet, I caught a factual error in the story and requested a published correction. (Executive Editor Amy Gilligan agreed and corrected the error.)

In reply, Matthew Banagan of LifeVac Europe Ltd. in Devon, England informed me that an article about the LifeVac saving 11 lives had been published by a medical journal called the International Journal of Clinical Skills (IJOCS).

I appreciated his tip and was curious to learn more because a few years ago I blogged an item about the LifeVac's first three claimed rescues of residents at this 44-bed nursing home located in a small town north of Swansea, Wales.

Here's the article to which Mr. Banagan directed me.

The four authors (whose listed affiliation is a gastroenterology clinic in New Hyde Park, NY) describe 10 -- not 11 -- case reports in which the LifeVac saved the lives of choking victims: the three at the nursing home in Wales...

...and seven other cases in the US, UK, Spain, and Greece.

The article by Saperstein et al is undated and a few clicks around the IJOCS website led me here.

Via a 2013 RetractionWatch item, journal publishing powerhouse Elsevier defines "in press" as "articles that have been accepted for publication but which have not been formally published and will not yet have the complete volume/issue/page information."

So has the LifeVac article been published or not?

According this tweet last week by LifeVac's US office (in Nesconset, NY), the article is "fully published."

That may be accurate, but in order to report the story, I needed to verify it with the journal.

Doing so should have been a simple task.

Instead I found myself on a trail that led to more questions -- and a recent $50 million court judgement involving the journal's former publisher.  

First, according to the IJCOS website and other sources, the most recent issue was published in January 2018.

In 2017 they'd published six issues, so why no issues in the past 15 months?

Next, via the IJOCS home page:

Clicking the word Scopus led me to this page:

The IJOCS website doesn't include the journal's mailing address, phone number, or e-mail addresses for any of the editors, none of whose professional affiliations are provided.

Here's a screenshot of the masthead I took a few days ago with my yellow-highlighting:

The most recent proper masthead I was able to locate was from a January 2015 issue with a London address, phone/fax numbers, and no shortage of e-mail addresses:

Here are the responses to some of my e-mails:


Last week I got in touch with Sally Richardson NMC RCN (yellow-highlighted on the first masthead) via Kingston University and St George’s University London where she's an Associate Professor in the School of Nursing.

In response to my inquiry about the LifeVac article, she replied that she didn't have contact information for any of the other editors on the masthead and that:
My name shouldn’t be on this list as I haven’t been part of this journal for many years and will have my name removed. 
Here's a screenshot of the IJOCS masthead today sans Prof. Richardson:

Then things got really interesting.

According to this web page, the IJOCS is published by

Clicking the "Contact Us" link leads to:

Via $50-million fine for predatory publisher that swallowed up Canadian science journals by Tom Spears, Ottawa Citizen, April 4, 2019:

Adding to the mystery, Pulsus's current online roster of journals doesn't include IJOCS:

Via The Wayback Machine, the most recent archived version of the same page that includes IJOCS is dated July 27, 2017:

Finally, the IJOCS website identifies the current issue as December 2017 but links to an active Twitter account...

 ...which last month tweeted about the LifeVac article. I multi-tweeted some questions but I haven't received a reply.

To be continued...

UPDATE 4/13/19: On April 10, I sent an e-mail with questions to two e-mail addresses for Pulsus Group that I found on their website: or (Incidentally, if the site includes any staff names or job titles, I couldn't find them.)

Yesterday after I posted this item, I received the following e-mail from the address
Dear Peter,

Greetings from International Journal of Clinical Skills..

This is to acknowledge you that we have received your query from our editors regarding a published article in our "International Journal of Clinical Skills" and that is about "Successful Use of a Novel Device Called the Lifevac ton Resuscitate Choking Victims World-wide Results" and it is the published content regarding a life saviour device called Life Vac.

So kindly let us know your query regarding this so that i can help you out in the best possible way.


Aviron R
Journal Coordinator
International Journal of Clinical Skills
To which I same-day replied:
Aviron R
Journal Coordinator
International Journal of Clinical Skills

Dear Aviron R,

Thank you for your e-mail today (copied below my signature) and your offer to help me.

I'd appreciate your answers to some quick questions for an item I'm reporting on my blog as a follow-up to this item I blogged today

1) What is your full name?

2) What is the mailing address and phone number for the office of the International Journal of Clinical Skills (IJOCS)?

According to your journal's website this is the current list of editors on the Executive Board.
 3) Is this list accurate? If so, would you please provide me with a mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address for Editor-in-Chief Dr Humayan Ayub?
4) If the list is not accurate, would you please provide me with an accurate list? Also, would you please provide the name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address of the current Editor-in-Chief?

5) What is the name and job title of the Pulsus Group representative who forwarded to you my 10 April 2019 e-mail (copied below)? If you don't have that information, I wish to locate Pulsus Group's media representative. Would you please provide me with the name and e-mail address of any Pulsus Group employee whom I can contact?

Thanks again for your kind offer to assist and I look forward to receiving your answers. Questions for me? Just ask.

Cheers, Peter
Click here for the correspondence (which I'll update if/when I hear back from Aviron R).

I haven't received a reply yet, but this morning I checked the IJOCS website and it's been updated to show another undated issue of the journal published in 2018. That issue includes the LifeVac article by Saperstein et al which has been removed from the journal's "In Press" page.

Here's a screenshot I took yesterday from the journal's archives page:

Here's a screenshot this morning from the same page:

Click the Volume 12, Issue 2 link and it takes you to:

Long story short, the now "fully published," peer-reviewed IJOCS article by Saperstein et al (from the New Hyde Park, NY gastroenterology clinic) that describes the ten choking rescue cases in Wales, the US, the UK, Spain, and Greece is available by clicking here.