John Catanzaro Does Victory Dance

Clearly John Catanzaro hopes people don’t read the actual settlement reached with the Department of Health.
[youtube]http://youtu.be/OndGls86cw0[/youtube]
Catanzaro makes it seem like he did the Department of Health a favor and he did nothing wrong. However, he stipulated to deceiving the Department and he has to pay former patients $180,750 to cover the costs of vaccines he charged for but did not administer.
Catazaro admitted to the same charges made back in January. Here is just one in which he agrees with the Department of Health that his treatment was not safe and he engaged in unprofessional conduct.
CatanzaroUnsafe
 
Catanzaro is pretty brazen; he still has to apply for reinstatement and yet he is counting his vaccines before they are hatched.

John Catanzaro's Naturopath License Suspended, Can Apply for Reinstatement in January 2015

The naturopath that Mark Driscoll called his physician can apply for license reinstatement when his suspension ends in January 2015. The order was announced by the Washington Department of Health yesterday and was the subject of a Seattle Times article posted last night.

Marqise Allen, Communications Office  360-236-4072

Kelly Stowe, Communications Office         360-236-4022

Snohomish County naturopath reaches settlement with state health officials

OLYMPIA — Snohomish County Naturopathic physician John A. Catanzaro (NATU.NT.00000769) has reached a settlement with state health officials to resolve charges against his license.
 
Catanzaro, whose license was suspended in January 2014, will remain suspended through at least Jan. 29, 2015. He will be on probation for at least eight years when his license is reinstated. Catanzaro didn’t follow appropriate protocol for implementing cancer research on people, and misrepresented to the Board of Naturopathy that he had the Federal Drug Administration approval required for experimental medications. He also failed to meet the standard of care by breaking applicable laws that govern safe and effective research on people. Catanzaro gave unapproved cancer vaccinations to cancer patients and didn’t get approval from an institutional review board.  In addition, he didn’t properly keep and maintain patient records.
 
The statement of charges, summary action order, and settlement are available online by clicking “Look up a health care provider” on the Department of Health website. Copies can be requested by calling 360-236-4700. That’s also the number to call to file complaints against health care providers in Washington.
The order outlines the charges against Catanzaro. Despite proclaiming his innocence, Catanzaro stipulated to the findings of the investigation and the order and acknowledged that the cancer vaccines he made were not part of a research program and were not even made in a lab. Some of those findings involved deception about what he was doing when making cancer vaccines.
CatanzaroOrderA
I was disappointed to see that there were no findings of fact regarding Catanzaro’s claims that he was collaborating with the Dana Farber Cancer Clinic at Harvard. Catanzaro told patients that Dana Farber would provide lab work and took money to pay for the lab work. Dana Farber denied any working relationship with Catanzaro.
In addition to the suspension and probation, Catanzaro will have to payback some money. He collected thousands from people without giving them a vaccine.
CatanzaroOrderMoney
This adds up to $180,750 that Catanzaro has to repay as an aspect of license reinstatement.
If he is reinstated, Catanzaro’s probation will last 8 years. Although it is unclear when the benefit stopped, Catanzaro until recently administered the wellness program for Mars Hill Church’s lead pastors.

 

Megachurch Methods: The Lead Pastors and Executive Elders Wellness Program (UPDATED)

In a bid to retain pastors, Mars Hill Church leaders implemented a wellness program in the summer of 2013. I first became aware of the program when John Catanzaro’s — Mark Driscoll’s naturopath physician — license to practice as a naturopath was suspended in January 2014. Then recently, I obtained more information about the program and the associated costs. The program is of interest because of the costs involved and the fact that the program involves Catanzaro whose license was suspended due to the use of cancer vaccines he was not authorized to administer. Catanzaro’s hearing is slated for November.
In response to negative publicity surrounding his loss of license, Catanzaro put out a press kit which referenced his work with Mars Hill Church. He claimed to be a special advisor to Mark Driscoll and to be working with the church to create wellness programs. Even though Catanzaro was at one time (perhaps still is) Driscoll’s naturopathic physician, Catanzaro’s articles were all removed from The Resurgence website when his license was suspended.
A source told me that the lead pastors and executive elders received monthly visits to Catanzaro’s clinic and were eligible to get IV vitamin treatments, and various supplements. The cost was around $100k for the first six months of the program according to one former pastor. Another former pastor told me that the cost was nearer to $7k/year per pastor ($126k for all pastors). Yet another said the visits were often marked by high pressure tactics to buy even more supplements and get more treatments.
I asked Mars Hill Church spokesman Justin Dean about the program.  Below is his response:

Since the summer of 2013 we have provided a Wellness Program as part of the competitive benefits package we offer our Lead Pastors and Executive Elders for treatments not typically covered by our healthcare plan. We take the wellness of our families seriously and have been happy to provide this added benefit for these pastors. These included optional IV vitamin treatments, check up and back adjustments, and nutritional supplements. This was developed with Dr. Catanzaro’s office but was expanded to include other doctors. The costs associated with the program were not over $100k for the first 6 months. Due to our current financial situation all program costs are in review. 

 I also asked, “Just one follow up; are those “others doctors” in Dr. Catanzaro’s office?” to which he replied, “They are able to see other doctors at his [Catanzaro’s] office in addition to doctors at an entirely different facility. ” 
People differ in their beliefs about the benefits of naturopathic treatments. Vitamin C treatments are controversial but I doubt they hurt much (or do much good). The amount of the program sounds high for what is offered which seems relevant given the current financial situation at Mars Hill.
Dean said all program costs are “in review” — as they should be. This wellness program was being funded at about the same level and about the same time as the “highly visible” mission projects in Ethiopia and India designed to draw money into the Global Fund. Now we know that most of the money donated to the Global Fund went to the general fund to pay for budget items like the wellness program.
UPDATE: There is disagreement over the cost of the program. Justin Dean wrote to me this afternoon and asked me to include an additional aspect to our email conversation about the wellness program. When we first talked, I had informed Dean that sources told me the wellness program cost $100k during the first six months of operation. Dean’s initial response to that point was stated above: “The costs associated with the program were not over $100k for the first 6 months.” However, later in the email conversation, Dean wrote again about the costs of the wellness program and said, “I checked into the figures on this and you have overstated the cost of this program by 85%.” I initially misunderstood this statement and asked about the actual figures which he did not provide. Then today, Dean asked me to include his statement about the costs of the program being overstated by 85% so that readers would not think that the $100/six months figure came from him. While Dean declined to give the actual dollar amount, he restated that “You asked if the cost was $100k in the first 6 months and I replied that number is overstated by 85%.” If I understand him correctly, the cost was closer to $54k for the first six months. Dean declined to confirm my estimate. 
In response, my sources stood by the $100k/first six months figure, although added that the information came in a manner that cannot now be verified. One source also wanted to make it clear that there was no choice of provider until John Catanzaro’s license was suspended. My sources informed me that Catanzaro was the only approved naturopath until Catanzaro’s license was suspended.
All concerned acknowledge that the program existed with naturopath John Catanzaro as the developer. While the exact costs cannot be verified, estimates range from around $100k to $200k on an annualized basis.
 
 
 

Press Release: Suspended Naturopath Special Advisor to Mark Driscoll, Mars Hill Church

As part of his media defense, John Catanzaro has issued a lengthy media kit. According to the release available from John Catanzaro’s Facebook page, the naturopath provides wellness consultation for Mars Hill executive pastors, serves on an Advisory Board Council at Mars Hill Church and is a special advisor to Mark Driscoll. Catanzaro lost his license to practice naturopathic medicine in January of this year due to allegations of administering unapproved cancer vaccines to his patients.  He has a hearing scheduled for August of this year and has been mounting a media campaign in his defense. On page 6 of the release, Catanzaro claims to be helping Mars Hill and Acts 29 develop a ministry model for wellness integration:

 
Then on page 9, he claims to be a special advisor to Mark Driscoll:

I have contacted Justin Dean at Mars Hill about these claims. I will post any response I get.
Catanzaro was once a featured writer for Mars Hill Church’s Resurgence website. When his licensed was suspended, all of his articles were pulled from the website. Mark Driscoll has mentioned Cantazaro as a naturopath who helped him overcome his “adrenal fatigue” (not an actual medical condition) and provided an introduction to Catanzaro’s book on marijuana.
It is hard to tell if the claims in the media kit are accurate. On one hand, I have heard from internal Mars Hill sources that Catanzaro administers vitamins and various costly interventions exclusively to Mars Hill executive elders as a part of the wellness plan. On the other hand, Catanzaro also has claimed a research partnership with the University of Washington and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard. According to spokespersons for the U of W and Dana Farber, the claims of a partnership were never true. Dana Farber expressly demanded that Catanzaro cease using the name of the clinic in his materials.  It is not clear how Catanzaro could provide naturopathic services to Mars Hill since his license has been suspended.
In addition to his media campaign, Catanzaro has launched a fund raising effort he says will benefit his patients.
 
 
 

John Catanzaro Fights Back and Starts Fund Raising; Hearing Slated for August

On Saturday (May 10), the Everett (WA) Daily Herald carried an article following up on naturopath John Catanzaro’s response to the suspension of his license in January over cancer vaccines provided by his clinic.  Although not a focus of the complaints against him, Catanzaro also claimed to have a professional relationship with the University of Washington and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University. Both institutions denied any connection to Catanzaro and Dana Farber Cancer Institute demanded that Catanzaro stop claiming that he was working with the clinic. Subsequently, all references to Dana Farber as well as to the University of Washington disappeared from his materials without explanation.
According to the DailyHerald, Catanzaro has launched a website to defend himself and serve as a platform to raise money. His defense now is in the court of public opinion, but his formal hearing before the naturopath board is not slated to take place until August 6-8 of this year.
Catanzaro also told the Herald that he hopes to raise money in order to reimburse cancer patients for funds spent on vaccines. According to the Herald, Catanzaro said, “These are stage 4 cancer patients waiting on treatments we had to throw away and I just want to be able to pay them back for all they’ve lost.”
It is unclear why unused vaccines would require payments from patients. Patients pay as they go for treatments and if the vaccines are not going to be used, the clinic might suffer loss but the patients should only have to pay for what they use. Furthermore, Catanzaro’s non-profit arm seems to have sufficient resources to cover these research costs. According to the 2012 990 for the HWIF Cancer Research Group, the organization set up to fund vaccine research, the organization had a fund balance of $818, 301. The document demonstrates that revenues from program fees exceeded clinic expenses by just over $300,000 in 2012. Perhaps 2013 was a leaner year (the 990 is not available) but it appears that the non-profit should be able to step in for patients.
In the media coverage since Catanzaro’s suspension, additional questions are still unanswered.
Catanzaro has yet to address why he told the public that he had working relationships with the University of Washington and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard University. While he removed these references from his website after the lack of relationships came to light, he has not addressed the claims that he needed funds from clients to secure the services of Dana Farber. Dana Farber denied performing these services.
His relationship to his non-profit organization raises questions as well. According to the state of Washington, he is a director of the HWIFC Cancer Research Group, but his name does not show up as an officer or key employee on the organization’s IRS 990 report. According to the most recent 990, two of his employees, his wife and his accountant make up four of the six board members.  As with the 2011 990, the 2012 report also shows significant transactions between the non-profit organization and Catanzaro’s for profit business.

Seattle Times Reports on the Troubles of Mark Driscoll's Doctor John Catanzaro

Seattle Times health reporter Carol Ostrom filed a report today regarding suspended Seattle naturopath John Catanzaro. Regular readers here will recognize similar themes in this report but see some important new information as well.
The article leads with his suspension and notes that he has until March 14th to appeal. Originally, Catanzaro had 20 days to appeal but he filed a motion for an extension of time to prepare his appeal which was granted by a Seattle judge last week. According to Department of Health spokeswoman, Kelly Stowe, Catanzaro is not supposed to engage in the practice of naturopathic medicine while his license is suspended. However, according to his website, he appears to be continuing his practice.
The article also confirmed the reporting here and at Wartburg Watch that Catanzaro once claimed a relationship with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, but in fact, has no relationship with the clinic and that DFCI has asked Catanzaro to stop using the name in his materials.
According to Ostrom’s reporting, Mark Driscoll praised Catanzaro’s treatments which led to others in the church to seek out his services. Some former MHC members have related to me that Driscoll has stated publicly that the IV vitamin treatments cost over $1,000 each.
The Times article also delves into Catanzaro’s fundraising methods a bit. As the Times notes, patients have set up accounts to solicit funds for their individual care. While this is permitted, the donations may not be tax deductible as IRS rules (see page 6) appear to disallow donations which are earmarked for one person’s care.
 
 

John Catanzaro to Appeal License Suspension

On his website yesterday, John Catanzaro, Mark Driscoll’s naturopathpartially addressed the growing controversy surrounding his license suspension.

To our valued patients and friends of Health and Wellness Institute of Integrative Medicine:

From: Dr. John Catanzaro

As many of you know, the Washington Department of Health (WA DOH) has raised concerns about our use of experimental autologous peptide vaccine in research. We disagree with the WA DOH and are appealing. We are working diligently with our legal team on our appeal.

We continue to provide personalized wellness and cancer care and all of our physicians, nurse team and admin team are here to serve you. There will be no interruption in our ability to provide you excellent quality care.

We want to sincerely thank you for your support and understanding during this difficult time. Our admin team can assist you in identifying ways you can support us during this process.

Warm Regards,
Dr. John

The Washington Department of Health did more than raise “concerns.” The naturopath board suspended his license to practice. In contrast to the message of “no interruption,” he is not supposed to practice while it is suspended. According to the Washington board, he has until Monday, February 17 to appeal.

Catanzaro only partially addressed issues which have been raised. Prior to the state board’s action, Catanzaro claimed to have a collaborative relationship with Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Ken Anderson an oncologist at DFCI, and the University of Washington for the purpose of developing cancer vaccines. In recent days, DFCI, Ken Anderson and UW have denied collaboration with Catanzaro or his clinic. If I was considering alternative care, this would be a huge red flag for me.

Another question is how naturopaths in this group are able to treat cancer at all. Naturopaths must work collaboratively with a MD or DO in order to treat malignancies in the state of Washington.* None of the medical staff listed on the website are credentialed as a MD or DO.

*WAC 246-836-210 (4) Naturopathic physicians may not treat malignancies except in collaboration with a practitioner licensed under chapter 18.57 or 18.71 RCW.

Click the link to read the State of Washington complaint.

Reference to Dana Farber Cancer Institute Removed from John Catanzaro's Clinic Website; U of WA Says There is No Connection

Since John Catanzaro’s license to practice as a naturopath was suspended in January, many websites have been scrubbed. Immediately, Mars Hill Church removed all 18 of John Catanzaro’s articles from The Resurgence website (you can see the posts here). Then, after being warned by Harvard’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute, references to the alleged collaboration between Catanzaro’s Health and Wellness Institute for Integrative Medicine and Cancer Treatment and DFCI have been removed. The current link doesn’t mention DFCI, but last week it did:

The other reference to DFCI was on Catanzaro’s Linked In page, and now that is missing as well.

Unless Catanzaro can offer proof of a collaboration with DFCI (I have asked for such evidence), it appears that he never did have a connection. He also claimed to be collaborating with the University of Washington “in the development of personalized cancer defense vaccines.” About that claim, UW spokeswoman Bobbi Nodell told me, “We cannot find a connection to UW.”*
More Scrubbing
In May, 2013, Mark Driscoll promoted Catanzaro’s ebook on marijuana on Facebook and Twitter, but those links are now broken. (Google cache tells the tale. Click the links to see the posts – Facebook; Twitter)
Mark Driscoll’s foreward to Catanzaro’s book was once on the HWIFC website, but isn’t now.

Once Catanzaro promoted Driscoll’s ebook, Puff or Pass? as a free gift for subscribing to the HWIFC newsletter. Now it is missing.
One page that hasn’t disappeared (but I suspect will soon after this post goes up) is this reference by Catanzaro to Mark Driscoll as his pastor and his article titled, “A Christian Doctor’s Opinion on Pot.”
Here is another page still up on Facebook where Catanzaro is referred to as a “licensed physician.” However, if you click the link in this Facebook post you come to an empty page on The Resurgence website.
To see all posts on this topic, click this link.
*UPDATE: This comment was added after this article was posted.

Dana Farber Cancer Institute Issues Warning To John Catanzaro

As is also being reported at Wartburg Watch, Dana Farber Cancer Institute issued a strong warning regarding Seattle naturopath John Catanzaro.

Warren and Dee:
We have investigated the matter and taken steps to request that Dr. Catanzaro cease all unauthorized use of our name.
Sincerely, Teresa Herbert
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Communications Department

Previously, DFCI disclosed that oncologist Ken Anderson was not collaborating with Catanzaro to develop cancer vaccines.
There are other open questions that I hope DFCI will address next week but for now, this seems to be an indication that claims such as made on the HWIFC website will need to be removed:

We are developing individual treatment strategies that will enhance each patient’s ability to fight and win the cancer battle; effectively blending medical science and integrative treatment to reach the cure. To accomplish this we are collaborating with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard as well as University of Washington in the development of personalized cancer defense vaccines.

Catanzaro’s Linked In page has been changed to remove reference to DFCI but this reference remains.
The folks behind Wartburg Watch have reported that they have been threatened since writing about Mr. Catanzaro’s cancer operation. I have as well. I do think Mr. Catanzaro should publicly condemn threats made with regard to coverage of his situation. I have emailed him and asked him several questions with no response.
I have also asked Mars Hill Church what prompted them to remove John Catanzaro’s articles from the Resurgence website with no reply.
Catanzaro is medical director of the HWIFC Cancer Research Group.  It is in this setting that the State of Washington’s naturopath board found the unauthorized use of cancer vaccines. The research group is registered with the IRS as a non-profit. You can review the 2011 990 form here. The form does not indicate that Catanzaro is medical director but it does show a substantial transaction of just over $344,000 between the non-profit and Catanzaro’s naturopath business.
Regarding the State of Washington complaint against Catanzaro, it appears that the board of naturopathy has already interviewed Catanzaro who, according to the board, was unable to verify Institutional Review Board approval or a Federalwide Assurance number. It is important to note that former patients brought the complaints which were then investigated by fellow naturopaths.
Prior posts on this topic:
Claims Of Resurgence Ex-Author And Naturopath Questioned By Esteemed Cancer Institute
John Catanzaro Speaks Out About His Cancer Vaccines; Mars Hill Church Is Silent
Naturopathic Doctor Touted By Mark Driscoll Suspended Over Experimental Cancer Vaccine

Claims Of Resurgence Ex-Author And Naturopath Questioned By Esteemed Cancer Institute

Last week, I wrote about John Catanzaro, a naturopath who Mark Driscoll has called his doctor. Driscoll has promoted Catanzaro in his sermons as the one who helped him overcome adrenal fatigue. This diagnosis is not a medical diagnosis but rather a theoretical concept often advanced by alternative medicine providers. Mars Hill promoted Catanzaro on the Resurgence website until recently when someone at MHC scrubbed all of Catazaro’s articles from the site. Although MHC has not given an explanation, the articles may have gone missing because Catanzaro’s license as a naturopath was suspended over allegations that he was giving untested cancer vaccines to patients.
To at least one patient, Catanzaro claimed he was working with Dr. Ken Anderson, an oncologist at Harvard’s Dana Farber Cancer Institute. On his Linked In page and his clinic website, he claims a special relationship with DFCI. However, it appears those claims are questionable.
On his Linked In page, Catanzaro says:

Dr. Catanzaro is pioneering movement toward personalized genetic and adaptive integrative immune treatment to fight cancer. He is working in a private movement with expert Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard cancer scientists in the area of cancer proteomics and molecular genetics in developing individualized HLA matched cancer peptide strategies through a subcontract with NeoBioLabs, Cambridge Ma.

Catanzaro’s clinic website says:

We are developing individual treatment strategies that will enhance each patient’s ability to fight and win the cancer battle; effectively blending medical science and integrative treatment to reach the cure. To accomplish this we are collaborating with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard as well as University of Washington in the development of personalized cancer defense vaccines.

Consistent with Catanzaro’s claims, these bloggers describe a phone conversation where Catanzaro claimed he was working with DFCI and Ken Anderson to develop a cancer vaccine:

We are preparing for the development of the next immunotherapy vaccine with the Health & Wellness Center. I had a 2-hour conversation on the phone the other day with Dr. John Catanzaro, who talked us through why this vaccine is different and something to be particularly hopeful about… the most significant being that he is now partnering with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston!
The first time that Chelsa and I read anything speaking of a CURE for Multiple Myeloma was forwarded by a friend from an article published about advances by doctors at Dana-Farber. This provided us with a great deal of hope, as well as assurance that the treatment we are pursuing with Health & Wellness Center is legitimate. It was SUPER encouraging to hear Dr. John say that he is now partnering with Dr. Ken Anderson at the Dana-Farber Institute to develop the same kind of vaccine for Chelsa that Dana-Farber Institute has experienced so much success with. (I included some links below if you want to know more).

With the help of Dr. John Peteet, a friend at DFCI, I was able to make contact with Ken Anderson who replied simply that there is “no connection” between Catanzaro and Anderson.  A call to DFCI yielded a similar result. Teresa Herbert, spokeswoman for DFCI, told me:

Dr. Ken Anderson and John Catanzaro are not working on any projects together. They spoke on the phone once or twice but they are not working on any projects together and I am not aware that they ever were.

On his Linked In page above, Catanzaro mentions a sub-contract with NeoBioLabs. NBL is not a research group, but rather sells equipment and reagents used in research. In other words, the implication that Catanzaro is working with DFCI via NBL is misleading at best.*
Via email, twitter and Facebook, I asked Catanzaro and the Health and Wellness Institute for references or contacts at DFCI who could substantiate the claims but there has been no reply. Yesterday, Catanzaro appears to have responded indirectly to his suspension on his website. DFCI has promised to address several additional matters as soon as possible.
There are significant questions which remain for Catanzaro and DFCI to address. According to the information presented by Catanzaro’s patient, Catanzaro claimed that DFCI was being paid to help develop an individualized vaccine. However, since Catanzaro’s lab is not conducting approved clinical trials, it seems odd and frankly hard to believe that DFCI would provide the kind of services Catanzaro claims. Hopefully, DFCI can address this question soon. If there isn’t and hasn’t been a connection, then Mr. Catanzaro may have to explain more than his suspended license to his patients.
 
*Thanks to Dee Parsons for passing along the information on NBL.