Indicted doctor is under fire for treatments
RENO (AP) – A Reno cancer doctor indicted by a federal grand jury last month is being defended by some patients for saving their lives but lambasted by others who accuse him of making false diagnoses and charging them for costly, unnecessary treatments.
A federal grand jury indicted James W. Forsythe, a 68-year-old certified oncologist and homeopathic doctor, last month on an allegation he handed out smuggled, unapproved human growth hormones from Israel to an undercover agent who claimed to want to look and feel younger.
Court affidavits say Forsythe told the agent that the hormones would reverse the effects of aging, restore his sleep quality, improve weight control and enhance libido.
A state medical board investigator called Forsythe “one of the five most serious physician offenders known in the state of Nevada.”
Forsythe denies the allegations, saying after his indictment, “I am confident we will prevail.”
While never before criminally charged, Forsythe or his clinic have been the subject of several regulatory investigations over the years for his practice, which combines standard medical approaches to cancer with the alternative techniques of homeopathy.
Robert Rozen, 68, of Lauderhill, Fla., claims expensive and ineffective treatments his cancer-stricken wife Elisa received at The Century Clinic in Reno contributed to her cancer-related death in July 2000 at 63.
Forsythe was the owner and medical director of that clinic beginning in 1994, later changing its name to Century Wellness Clinic and switching locations.
Rozen filed a civil medical fraud suit in 2001 in Washoe County that is ongoing against Forsythe and Katrina Tang, one of the primary homeopathic doctors at the former Century Clinic. In 2004, Tang surrendered her license and retired.
In 2002 the Nevada State Board of Homeopathic Medical Examiners disciplined Tang by barring her from taking any new clients, according to a public settlement.
The board found that Tang told a terminally ill patient she could be cured in order to treat her, her staff did not accurately report to patients when an oncologist would be available and she allowed nonmedical staff to attend to a critically ill patient.
“They ran a scam where they preyed on the sick and infirm,” Rozen said.
Rozen was one of 19 people from across the country who wrote letters in 2001 to the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners demanding Tang and Forsythe be investigated for their practices.
“I certainly feel that Dr. Tang and Dr. Forsythe and others should be barred from the practice of medicine,” wrote Betty Driver McCaa, a Virginia woman who was treated at the clinic for multiple sclerosis. “They prey on people who are desperate, taking their money and keeping them from conventional treatments that might help them.”
In the 1990s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration twice raided Century Clinic and in 1993 banned Tang from using the Dermatron.
In 1998 a judge ordered Tang and the clinic to pay a $400,000 fine for using similar illegal machines in an experimental study, according to FDA records.
In 2002, the state homeopathic medical examiners board settled with Tang and ordered she not accept new patients. The board, in a public settlement agreement, said it still had 18 complaints against Tang that had not been investigated.