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”?