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Son of autism doctor charged with practicing without a license

The Maryland panel that oversees doctors in the state has charged a man with practicing medicine without a license just weeks after his father's license was suspended for putting autistic children at risk.

The Maryland Board of Physicians says David Geier worked with his father, Dr. Mark Geier, at the Rockville and Owings Mills offices of Genetic Consultants of Maryland, where they used a drug therapy that autism experts say is based on junk science.

The pair has built a national following among parents who believe autism is linked to the mercury in vaccines, a theory discredited by mainstream medicine. They developed a treatment using Lupron, a testosterone suppressant approved for prostate cancer and ovarian fibroids, as well as in chemically castrating sex offenders.

In children, it's used for "precocious puberty," which the board said Mark Geier over-diagnosed in autistic children.

J. Steven Wise, a lawyer for the Geiers, said Thursday that David Geier "categorically denies the charges." Mark Geier has already appealed his suspension.

Another attorney for the pair has said that they are being targeted for their outspoken views and have not hurt any children. Joseph A. Schwartz III said the treatment may be considered "a crazy therapy but it works" on especially difficult patients. The lawyers produced affidavits in support of Mark Geier and Lupron therapy from parents of five children.

The lawyers would not address the specifics of the charges Thursday but have said David Geier works in an "administrative" capacity in the offices. He has earned a bachelor's degree and taken some graduate-level classes.

They also have said in one case, David Geier touched a patient only when he was needed to subdue the boy, who was aggressive.

That child's mother, however, complained to the board in 2008 that David Geier had diagnosed her then-10-year-old son, used an ultrasound wand on him as he walked around the room and ordered so many tests that the lab questioned how much blood they would have to draw. The mother, who was not identified in board's report, also said she assumed David Geier was a physician.

In its new report, dated May 16, the board said that David Geier had also practiced medicine on a host of other patients.

The board has set a hearing date for July 6 and said it could impose fines.

In the meantime, the state continues to work on removing David Geier from the Maryland Commission on Autism, an advisory board that meets again July 12. Officials said they knew of his "controversial" ideas when he was appointed to the "diagnostician" slot on the board and knew he was not a doctor but had mistakenly labeled him as a one on its website.

"This decision from the Board of Physicians confirms our previous view that David Geier should not be on the board," said David Paulson, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, about the charges. The officials asked David Geier to step down from the commission when his father's license was suspended in April, but he refused.

"This is a serious decision from the Board of Physicians, and these charges have significant evidence behind them," Paulson said. "The department's focus on is taking the next steps. And our view is that serving on this board is a privilege, and David Geier should not be on the board."

In a separate document dated May 16, the board also said Mark Geier had aided an unauthorized person in the practice of medicine, acted unprofessionally, grossly overusing medical services, failed to meet standards for medical care and failed to keep proper records.

The board specifically said Mark Geier, a genetics counselor, has no board certification in specialties associated with treating autism. He also misdiagnosed children and urged parents to approve risky treatments without fully informing them of potential dangers, it said.

The doctor will make his case to an administrative law judge in June. The judge will make a recommendation to the Board of Physicians. Some of the other nine states where Mark Geier holds medical licenses have also begun proceedings against the doctor.