Chiropractors who peddled stem cell ‘miracles’ accused of deceptive practices

Cord blood containing stem cells, seen here, can be used in the treatment of blood cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas. But the burgeoning science has been seized upon by some making promises to patients in the realm of science fiction, a 2018 AJC investigation found. (Photo courtesy Fotolia/TNS)

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Cord blood containing stem cells, seen here, can be used in the treatment of blood cancers such as leukemias and lymphomas. But the burgeoning science has been seized upon by some making promises to patients in the realm of science fiction, a 2018 AJC investigation found. (Photo courtesy Fotolia/TNS)

State and federal authorities seek restitution for those taken in by unsubstantiated claims

Pushing unproven treatments, the chiropractors targeted the elderly, inviting them to lunch seminars where speakers in lab coats promised miracle cures for the aches and pains that come with age. In online advertisements, they told stories of patients who gave up crutches or were able to play pickleball again.

But it was a deception based on the dubious science of stem cell therapy, according to a complaint filed this week by the Federal Trade Commission and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr.

The lawsuit accuses Steven D. Peyroux, who holds a Georgia chiropractor’s license, and Brent J. Detelich, a former chiropractor who was once convicted of health care fraud in Pennsylvania, of using false advertising to convince patients to hand over $5,000 per stem cell injection. Patients often paid for more than one injection.

The lawsuit seeks restitution for those affected, the surrender of profits from improper activities, and civil penalties of $5,000 for each violation of the Georgia Fair Business Practices Act and $10,000 for each violation involving an elderly or disabled person.

In marketing materials, the complaint says, Peyroux and Detelich made false or unsubstantiated claims that the treatments could ease arthritis, osteoarthritis, nerve damage, joint pain and pain from injuries. They touted stem cell therapy as being as good as or better than surgery, steroid injections or painkillers, authorities allege.

Detelich appeared in a video posted on YouTube where he said all drugs, even aspirin, have bad side effects and start to break down the body. He urged patients to consider stem cells first.

“Every time I hear about it, it amazes me,” Detelich said, according to a transcript included in the lawsuit. “An 87-year-old woman who’s got pain for 20 years, she’s on crutches, she can’t walk without assistance. She comes in and two days later she’s walking pain-free.

“That is what life is about for me as a physician.”

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This Superior Healthcare advertisement, inviting people living with pain to attend a seminar in Acworth, was included in a federal complaint filed Monday by the Federal Trade Commission and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. (Special)

Credit: Special

This Superior Healthcare advertisement, inviting people living with pain to attend a seminar in Acworth, was included in a federal complaint filed Monday by the Federal Trade Commission and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. (Special)

Credit: Special

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This Superior Healthcare advertisement, inviting people living with pain to attend a seminar in Acworth, was included in a federal complaint filed Monday by the Federal Trade Commission and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. (Special)

Credit: Special

Credit: Special

Detelich declined to comment on the case Wednesday. Peyroux did not respond to messages.

The lawsuit is Attorney General Carr’s second action involving what was once the Superior Healthcare network of clinics, which at various times advertised locations in Sandy Springs, Morrow, Canton, Chattanooga and Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio.

Last year, Carr’s office filed a complaint in Fulton County Superior Court against Elite Integrated Medical, which had formerly done business as Superior Healthcare Sandy Springs and Superior Healthcare Morrow. That lawsuit also accuses the company of charging patients $5,000 for stem cell injections which weren’t scientifically proven to do anything to help them. The lawsuit is pending.

Peyroux operated the Canton location, having founded Superior Healthcare in 2005. In the ensuring years, he generated millions of dollars in revenue by expanding beyond the bounds of chiropractic and advising other chiropractors how to do the same, according to Carr’s office.

He formed Physicians Business Solutions in 2009, which purports to be a consulting firm advising health care practitioners on increasing revenue by branching into such areas as hormone replacement therapy and regenerative therapy, the suit says. Around 2015, he and Detelich co-founded the Stem Cell Institute of America, which instructed chiropractors on expanding into stem cell therapy, giving them the appearance of being part of a large nationwide network under the institute’s logo.

“At best, the use of unproven products or therapies can cost consumers thousands of dollars without affording them any results,” Carr said in a written statement. “At worst, it can be harmful to their health. Our office will continue to hold accountable businesses that make unsubstantiated claims and violate the law — especially those that target our older or at-risk adults.”

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