Comprehensive Biologics and Dr. Buzz
If you read this blog, you know that I love the statement, “You can’t make this stuff up”. This feeling of astonishment at the crazy stuff that’s out there calling itself regenerative medicine never gets old. Nor do I know where each lead will take me until I dig deeper. Today we’re going to take a deep dive into a company called Comprehensive Biologics that lead me to a course for chiropractors in stem cell therapy at GW Medical School? Huh? Yes, you read that right, so strap in, this is a wild ride.
The Email from Comprehensive Biologics
Many of my stories begin with a marketing email sent to me or my colleagues. This one begins just that way:
“We also want to help you by delivering the best product. The owners of Comprehensive Biologics (all doctors and Pharm D’s) literally make this product by hand. We do not buy from a manufacturer or hire lab techs to make it. We use this exact same product in our own facilities so only the best quality and strength will do. We have done over 10,000 procedures in our very own offices and we are available for peer to peer conversations whenever needed to ensure the best results.”
Huh? So we have a company that claims that the “doctors” and some pharmacists are making amniotic fluid and tissue products by hand? Yikes! However, while that’s crazy enough, this rabbit hole also leads to some far more interesting places.
I always start my search for information on the company website. There is no address listed on the website, which is often a bad sign. However, the website is state of the art:
Since any company that is distributing amniotic tissue needs to fill out a quickie FDA registration form online, I next went there and did find an address, which is here:
This is a strip mall. The location listed on the FDA registration form is a Title business. That’s near the ReMax and near a clinic with a sign that says, “Medical Weight Loss”. The Google listing for this address says it’s “Masters Title”, so I called the number listed for the title company. Ultimately that lead me to learn that this is now the office of a “Dr. Timmons”.
The Comprehensive Biologics website does give some names, so let’s dive into those. The first listed is a chiropractor by the name of “Buzz Korth”.
Dr. Buzz Korth
Buzz is a chiropractor who lists the following bio:
“Buckeye Physical Medicine and Rehab is also known as one of the nation’s largest facilities that offers allografts with stem cells.”
“He is an active member of the American Academy for Anti-Aging. He also a member of the American Board of Anti-Aging Health Care Practitioners and he recently received his Fellowship in Stem Cells from the Metabolic Medical Institute in Conjunction with George Washington University.”
The fact that A4M (American Academy for Anti-Aging) is listed isn’t surprising, as I have covered that pay for play organization before. What did surprise me was the part that Dr. Buzz learned all he knows about stem cells from a fellowship with the Metabolic Medical Institute and George Washington University? Let’s dig in there.
Who is the Metabolic Medical Institute?
So is the Metabolic Institute a professional organization that actually offers fellowships? Not so much. Let’s first learn a little about what board certification and fellowship mean and then we’ll dig further.
All medical board certifications are held through the American Board of Medical Specialties or ABMS. So when you hear that your doctor is “Board Certified” in a specific specialty, that’s an ABMS specialty that requires lots of training to achieve. What’s actually involved?
For a doctor to be board certified through ABMS, first he or she needs to finish medical school and complete a medical school affiliated residency program that takes years of work. Then he or she sits for a written test and then an oral board. If all of that is successfully completed, then they can become a board-certified specialist. The doctor can then also go further in their education by going on to a fellowship program. That lasts another 1-3 years and the process repeats. Meaning many MD or DO physicians have half a decade or more of post-medical school work to say that they are board-certified.
The reason for this detour about ABMS is this press release about the MMI “fellowship” that Dr. Buzz completed:
This coursework says it’s approved by ABPS, not ABMS. Given that in my experience, hospitals generally require ABMS board certification, I had never heard of ABPS. This is borne out by the ABPS Wikipedia page which states that ABPS board certification is only recognized by medical boards in Florida, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah. Otherwise, the other states like mine and Ohio (where Dr. Buzz is located) don’t recognize a board certification through ABPS, while all 50 state medical boards recognize an ABMS board certification. Would a chiropractor who never went to medical school or residency be eligible for an ABPS board certification?
This is from the ABPS website:
This would seem to argue that a chiropractor could not get this type of board certification. But is that true? On the one hand, the document says that you need to finish a medical school residency program, which would rule out a chiropractor from being able to call himself board certified. On the other hand, one of the criteria for this board credential is the completion of naturopathic college, acupuncture school, or chiropractic school? I’m so confused…Join us for a free Regenexx webinar.
George Washington Medical School
If the ABPS stuff above is weird, it gets far weirder when we dive deep into what’s going on with stem cell therapy training at a major US Medical Scool. Dr. Buzz claims that his fellowship certification in stem cells was issued by MMI in conjunction with George Washington Medical School. Is that true?
I looked up the Metabolic Medical Institute page at GW medical school in Washington, DC. I did find this fellowship in integrative and nutritional medicine, but the page never once uses the term “stem cell” in the description of the program. Hence, I emailed the course directors at GW about this and got this in return:
“While GW offers CME for various programs at MMI, it does not cover Stem cells, as far as I am aware. If you give me his name, I can investigate too. He is not uncommon for us to police these sorts of claims as well, especially from non-MDs.”
So it looks like this course that Dr. Buzz took was not about stem cells? I was still reeling from the concept that GW Medical School has a course that can be taken by non-physicians and then someone may be able to call themselves “Board Certified” when GW chimed in:
Thank you for the opportunity to respond on behalf of GW.
1) There is no relationship between MMI stem cell training and George Washington University. This was an incorrect statement by Dr. Korth. I have contacted MMI leadership to correct this issue on his website.
2) There is no relationship between the MMI fellowship and ABPS. Only physician (MD/DO) graduates from the GW Integrative Medicine masters/fellowship program may qualify to sit for the ABPS Board.
I am not sure how any of these assertions became so convoluted, and I am glad you pointed out all of the misstatements that Dr. Korth makes so they can be corrected. I would be as confused as you too.
I expect you will also be hearing from MMI to confirm the truth of things on their side as well.
I appreciate you giving us the chance to clarify.
Andrew Heyman, MD MHSA
Medical Director of Integrative Medicine
Dept of Clinical Research and Leadership
School of Medicine and Health Sciences
George Washington University
Director of Academic Affairs”
So it looks like Dr. Buzz was incorrect in claiming that he is board certified through MMI/GW in stem cells.
Ruben Timmons, M.D.
The strange stuff continues as we dive deep into Comprehensive Biologics. Take this physician listed on the website. His Bio looked odd to me. For example, this:
“In 2010, Dr. Timmons was appointed Minster of Science, Technology, and Innovation for the country of Panama. During his five years in that position he worked with pioneering advancements in the field of stem cell research. “
What’s weird is that this physician is boarded in anesthesia pain management. It’s always interesting when a physician, who can spend a lifetime building a practice in a given place just up and leaves to go to another country. Hence, this caused me to look deeper. I began with a Florida License look-up. That’s when I found a serious complaint where it was recommended by the state medical board that either Dr. Ruben Timmons lose his medical license or be disciplined. Highlights from the complaint:
- He gave his electronic prescribing credentials to non-physician providers in the office.
- At certain times, he directed an employee to automatically re-issue controlled substance prescriptions without an office visit or telephone encounter.
- He also pre-signed numerous blank prescription pads, which were kept in areas of the office accessible to employees.
So was Dr. Timmons running a Florida pill mill? Was that a thing? This is from a 2019 article linked below entitled:
5.6 billion opioid pills flooded the state, and rogue South Florida doctors helped get them on the streets
“Both prescription opioid overdoses and opioid prescriptions in Florida peaked in 2010, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when providers in the state wrote about 88 prescriptions for every 100 Floridians.
That same year, 90 of the top 100 doctors buying oxycodone nationwide were practicing in Florida.”
This news piece about Florida narcotic pill mills is where we find that Dr. Timmons wrote more than 75,000 prescriptions for narcotics from 2006-2012. That’s saying something because he left for Panama in 2010. He was one of hundreds of physicians called out for his prescribing practices:
Let’s unpack that, according to the article, Dr. Timmons wrote on average 51 narcotic prescriptions a day, 5 days a week, for 6 years. That’s if he kept practicing after 2010 when he went to Panama. If he closed his clinic after 2010, then this number per day rises to 76 opioid prescriptions. How many in my opinion as a boarded pain management physician should a solo practitioner in pain management write? A handful? Maybe ten a day if you had a clinic filled with chronic pain patients? IMHO writing more than 50 opioid prescriptions a day could be why he had an investigative visit from the Florida Medical Board.
Then we see this in Dr. Timmons bio on the Comprehensive Biologics website: “Here in the United States, Dr. Timmons works with universities and labs to further develop and improve regenerative medicine.”
A search of the US National Library of Medicine under his name and stem cells revealed no published research:
I could find no other published research under the term “amniotic” or “umbilical”.
Putting it All Together
So let’s summarize here. We have a chiropractor, “Dr. Buzz” who claims to be “fellowship-trained” in stem cells by George Washington University, but the GW program that he claims certified him states it doesn’t do that type of training. That board certification is not held by the ABMS that certifies your local doctors, but by a similarly named organization called ABPS. Even through that second-tier board organization that is not recognized in most states, GW says that a chiropractor can not hold this board certification. Dr. Buzz also claims to be processing his amniotic tissue products by hand, but when I tried to find out where that happens, according to the FDA quickie tissue registration document, it’s happening in the back of a Florida Title company? Or a medical clinic? One of the doctors associated with Comprehensive Biologics IMHO was running a Florida pill mill before he became a “stem cell expert”. I can’t verify that he is a stem cell expert with any peer-reviewed publications on the topic.
The upshot? As I often say, you can’t make this stuff up. I really don’t know what I’m going to find before I start digging into these “stem cell” companies. However, I am rarely disappointed.