Source: San Diego Union Tribune
Date:   	Jul 27, 2001
Headline:  	Alternative Tijuana clinic shut down by Baja officials 
Chicken livers reportedly used in cancer treatments
Author: Enrique Garcia Sanchez

Corrections made: the fine was originally cited in dollars. The newspaper corrected the amount. I have made that correction in this text below. TIJUANA -- A clinic that used chicken liver extracts, tissue from guinea pigs and human tissue to treat cancer patients, most of them Americans, was shut down by the Baja California health department yesterday.

The investigation began after an unidentified patient complained about the San Martin Clinic, which is in the city's La Mesa district, about 15 minutes from the San Ysidro border crossing. Health officials Dr. Alfredo Gruel Culebro and Dr. Agustin Escobar Fematt, said that when their investigators went to the clinic they found that chicken livers and tissue from guinea pigs had been mixed with the human tissue of cancer patients. Derivatives of this combination were then injected into the patients.

The doctor in charge of the clinic, Geronimo Rubio, could not provide research protocols for the treatments, as required by Mexico's federal health department, the officials said. The clinic has operated since 1996 under a hospital license.

"We don't have proof that these therapies are scientifically based, nor are they authorized by the Mexican government," Gruel said.

The San Martin Clinic appears to be the same clinic that is advertised on the Internet and in various U.S. publications as the American Metabolic Institute. American Metabolic, operated by Rubio and American William Fry, has its administrative headquarters in Bonita. A staff worker there, who declined to be identified, confirmed the two clinics are the same.

Gruel said investigators found an American Metabolic promotional video with images filmed at the San Martin Clinic. Another staff worker at American Metabolic, who also declined to be identified, described the action by Baja authorities as a "routine health inspection." She said Rubio and Fry, American Metabolic's director, were unavailable for comment.

Rubio and American Metabolic are well-known on the Tijuana alternative health care scene, where numerous clinics, often controlled by U.S. operators, offer unproven and disproven treatments. On its Web site, American Metabolic claims to have a 65 percent to 75 percent success rate in "reversing" late-stage cancers with a regimen that includes rectal infusions of an oxygen derivative, enemas that include snake and chicken cartilage, and a device that emits electronic pulses that "deactivate" cancer cells.

Patients, mostly from the United States and Western Europe, pay thousands of dollars for the therapies.

The Baja California inspectors said they found a warehouse that operated like a pharmacy in front of the clinic. There, they found three units of blood that had apparently come from the United States. Rubio could not provide proof that the blood was legally imported, the officials said. According to Gruel, if the blood was brought illegally into Mexico, the clinic also committed the federal offense of trafficking in organs and tissues.

Yesterday afternoon, people could be seen inside the clinic, which operates out of an ordinary looking house that bears a small sign saying "San Martin Hospital." The health officials said the facility would be closed by the end of the day. No one from the clinic staff would comment.

Since January, the state health department has closed 20 clinics that offer alternative treatments for cancer to clients from the United States, England, Germany and Russia.

"We welcome them to Mexico, but we want them to receive a normal, regulated, accepted treatment," Gruel said.

Two alternative clinics that were shut down in February -- Biopulse and Century Nutrition -- are owned by Americans. Both were allowed to reopen this month but have been forbidden to practice alternative medicine. Biopulse paid a 220,000 peso fine, Gruel said.

Century Nutrition is contesting its $18,200 fine. In both cases, Gruel said, "we'll be closely watching their work." Free-lance journalist Enrique Garcia Sanchez is a regular contributor to Enlace, the Union-Tribune's Spanish-language weekly.

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