Some Notes on Dr. Robert Wickman

Stephen Barrett, M.D.

Robert B. Wickman, D.O., whose Arizona medical license was revoked in 1985, now practices what he calls "alternative medicine" in Quito, Ecuador. In December 2009, after receiving a complaint from the husband of a woman he treated there, I decided to learn more about him. This article describes what I found.

Wickman graduated from the Kansas City College of Osteopathy & Surgery in 1963 and received a license to practice in Arizona in 1964. The biographical sketch on his Web site states that he did not take a residency program but achieved board certification by as a result of experience plus passage of an examination. After a few years of practice, however, he became disillusioned and began searching for "cures instead of covering up symptoms." [1]

Government Actions

In 1980, the Arizona State Board of Osteopathic Examiners charged him with prescribing excessive amounts of narcotic drugs. After a hearing, it placed him on probation for a period of five years and directed him to surrender his registration certificates for Class II and III controlled substances. Wickman appealed the decision in court. A lower court granted his appeal but in 1983, the Arizona Court of Appeals upheld the board and concluded that Wickman had "prescribed narcotic and hypnotic drugs in such quantities as to constitute a danger to the health, welfare and safety of patients and the public." [2]

In 1985, the Board revoked Wickman's license after determining that he had fraudulently represented to a board investigator that treatment with Tumorex and DMSO was effective against cancer. The Board also concluded that he had maintained a referring and fee dividing relationship with an illegal practitioner of medicine [3].

Tumorex is a fake cancer cure that was notorious in the early 1980s. It's main provider was Jimmy Keller, an unlicensed man who operated the Universal Health Center in Matamoros, Mexico, just across the border from Brownsville, Texas. In 1984, Keller and several others connected with the scam were charged with "engaging in organized criminal activity by conspiring to commit theft." [4] Maxine Lowder, who ran a referral service that supplied many of Keller's patients, was convicted of failure to report a felony and subsequently spent 19 months in federal prison [5]. Keller fled to Mexico and was not apprehended until 1991. He eventually served two prison terms totaling three years [6].

Wickman was also prosecuted. In a 1985 letter to the editor of the Townsend Letter for Doctors, he stated that following a six-week trial, the jury found him guilty of "conspiracy and fraudulent schemes" and that he was sentenced to a year in the county jail and seven years probation. He also reported that "judgments are being filed against me right and left and the IRS is trying to get into the act as I used my pension plan money to pay attorney fees." [7] Reports about Keller's prosecution indicated that Wickman also received referrals from Lowder and that the chemical analysis of Tumorex was done on a sample seized at Wickman's clinic [8,9].

In February 1989, based on the Arizona board's action, the Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts suspended Wickman's Missouri license for six months, to be followed by 24 months of probation [10]. But by this time, however, it appears that Wickman had left the United States.

Dubious Current Practices

Wickman's Web site states that in 1986, when all his options were closed to practice medicine, he "became a fugitive" and moved to Ecuador where is became licensed and set up his current practice [1]. He offers ozone therapy, chelation therapy, colonic therapy, and many other dubious treatments, but the one that sets him apart from most "alternative" practitioners treatments is his use of "frequencies" as advocated by Royal Rife. Wickman's Web site claims:

None of the above claims have any scientific support. Royal Raymond Rife (1888-1971) was an American who claimed that cancer was caused by bacteria. During the 1920s, he claimed to have developed a powerful microscope that could detect living microbes by the color of auras emitted by their vibratory rates. His Rife Frequency Generator allegedly produced radio waves with precisely the same frequency, causing the offending bacteria to shatter in the same manner as a crystal glass breaks in response to the voice of an opera singer. The American Cancer Society has pointed out that although sound waves can produce vibrations that break glass, radio waves at the power level emitted a Rife generator do not have sufficient energy to destroy bacteria [15]. Wickman offers DNA testing by mail for a fee of $100 [13].

In December 2009, I was contacted by the husband of an Ecuadorian woman who died of breast cancer while under Wickman's care. The husband told me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and had the affected breast removed, but discontinued chemotherapy after one round. After consulting Wickman, who said he could cure her, she bought a home-version Rife device from him and continued under his care for three years. She remained in remission for 18 months but then developed symptoms and became progressively sicker. The husband told me that Wickman would evaluate her by placing a drop of blood on a plate that would be inserted into a machine hooked up to a computer. The computer then reported an "immunity strength number" and the "resonant frequencies" of the her illnesses. Even though she was terminally ill, Wickman told the woman that her immunity numbers were improving and that she was cancer-free.

References

  1. Dr. Robert B. Wickman, D.O., Alternative medicine. Wickman Medical Center Web site, accessed Dec 6, 2009.
  2. Opinion. Wickman v. Arizona State Board of Osteopathic Examiners. Arizona Court of Appeals Oct 4, 1983.
  3. Order of revocation of license. In the matter of Robert B. Wickman, D.O. Before the Arizona Board of Osteopathic Examiners in Medicine and Dentistry, Jan 24,1985.
  4. Bell TE. Cancer clinic crew charged with crimes. Brownsville Herald, Feb 2, 1984.
  5. Ciotti P. Faith, Hope & Fraud. Los Angeles Times, December 15, 1991.
  6. Barrett S. Tumorex: A cancer fraud. Quackwatch, Dec 6, 2009.
  7. Wickman RB. My sentence consisted of one year in the county jail. Townsend Letter for Doctors, Aug 1985, pp 210-211.
  8. Bell TE. Victims shedding light on shadowy cancer clinics. Brownsville Herald, Feb 2, 1984.
  9. Bell TE. Drug used in cancer clinic analyzed to be amino acid. Brownsville Herald, Jan 30, 1984.
  10. 6892 Questionable Doctors Disciplined By States or the Federal Governmnt. Washington, DC: Public Citizen Health Research Group, June 1990.
  11. Wickman RB. Cancer: The cure is possible. Wickman Medical Center Web site, accessed Dec 6, 2009.
  12. Wickman RB. Frequencies. Wickman Medical Center Web site, accessed Dec 6, 2009.
  13. Wickman RB. DNA testing. Wickman Medical Center Web site, accessed Dec 6, 2009.
  14. Wickman RB. Curing cancer. Wickman Medical Center Web site, accessed Dec 6, 2009.
  15. American Cancer Society. Questionable methods of cancer management: Electronic devices. CA—A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 44:115-127, 1994.

This article was revised on December 7, 2009.

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