Chiropractic group would ban machine
Calling it a threat to public safety, the Washington State Chiropractic Association wants to ban an unproven medical device that purportedly...
Seattle Times staff reporters
Calling it a threat to public safety, the Washington State Chiropractic Association wants to ban an unproven medical device that purportedly can diagnose and cure disease.
The shoebox-size device, called the EPFX, is manufactured by federal fugitive William Nelson, who fled the U.S. in 1996 after he was indicted on felony fraud charges.
Hundreds of the devices, which now sell for $19,900, have been sold in Washington.
The chiropractic association requested the ban Thursday before a state board that governs chiropractors. Members of the Chiropractic Quality Assurance Commission may rule by February.
The ban would apply only to the state's 2,100 chiropractors. Other licensed health-care professionals are likely to avoid using the device as well, state health officials said.
If the ban is approved, Washington will join Oregon as the second state to prohibit chiropractors from using the machine.
The demand for a statewide ban came in reaction to a recent Seattle Times investigation, "Miracle Machines." The three-day series revealed how manufacturers and practitioners profit from treating people with unproven machines, some of them potentially dangerous, others illegal.
EPFX operators have illegally used the device to misdiagnose diseases and to divert critically ill people from life-saving care and drain their bank accounts.
St. John's Hospital, an 866-bed facility in Springfield, Mo., that treated patients with the machine, has stopped using it, pending an investigation. The Times had found that two employees, who touted the EPFX in seminars, introduced two of the machines into the hospital.
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration also is investigating the EPFX.
Nelson's company, Eclosion, is registered with the FDA as a manufacturer of the EPFX. It is classified as a biofeedback device, to be used only for stress relief. But Nelson, in violation of FDA rules, has claimed that the device has diagnostic and therapeutic powers.
Physicians, chiropractors and other licensed professionals across the country have touted the EPFX. Company officials say 8,000 machines have been sold in the U. S.
Since The Times' report, The Quantum Alliance — EPFX's largest distributor — urged operators of the device to promote their personal experiences with it in letters to The Times.
The company told them to refrain from saying the EPFX cured diseases and warned against talking to journalists or any "health authorities." EPFX operators sent scores of letters to The Times extolling the virtues of the machine.
The Washington State Chiropractic Association, which represents most of the state's chiropractors, said the EPFX poses a "threat to public safety" and immediate action should be taken to protect vulnerable patients, according to executive director and lobbyist Lori Bielinski.
In May, the Oregon Board of Chiropractic Examiners banned the use of the EPFX by chiropractors. Lester Lamm, a chiropractor and member of a subcommittee that studied the device, became suspicious of the EPFX based on the "outrageous" claims by its inventor.
"If the EPFX-SCIO device was able to do all that it claims to do (in essence, diagnose everything and treat everything successfully), I would expect that by now the inventor would have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine — many times over," Lamm said.
The head of a national chiropractic organization that includes state licensing boards said she will share information about the EPFX with all the state chiropractic boards and discuss it at a spring conference in Atlanta.
"It's all about how do you not overregulate innovation and growth in a profession but protect the vulnerable patients who are dependent on the boards," said Executive Director Donna Liewer of the Federation of Chiropractic Licensing Boards.
Liewer said the explosion of new devices and treatments has made it challenging for underfunded regulatory boards to analyze claims and scientific studies.
"Everyone is pushing their scope of practice and trying to make a quick buck," she said. "You have some pushing the envelope. It's fertile ground for fraud and scams to occur."
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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