Misguided misguidance?

Back in the sceptic saddle… and, during my world catch-up last weekend, appalled by a story in The Sunday Times, headlined ‘Patients misled on alternative cancer care‘. Unless you’re a subscriber, the full piece is not available via that link, but you can get the gist from this report back in March. It has apparently taken five months for a Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) panel to conclude that a character named Julian Kenyon, medical director of The Dove Clinic ‘for Integrated Medicine’ near Winchester, made unsubstantiated claims concerning an expensive cancer ‘treatment’ offered by his clinic, thereby misleading vulnerable cancer patients and their families.

Misguided 2

‘Integrated’, eh. The re-branding term du jour for marketing the misnomer-ed ‘complementary and alternative medicine’ on equal footing with evidence-based medicine. Apparently, Kenyon and his clinic have supposedly been under regulator surveillance for a number of years. Yet, despite the MPTS panel’s conclusion that Kenyon’s claims ‘were not backed by good scientific evidence and could not be justified’, it still sympathetically concluded that he ‘was misguided rather than dishonest.’

‘Misguided’? What does this mean, exactly? The article states that Kenyon made ‘False claims’; but it cannot be concluded that Kenyon is a charlatan and a fraud because he did/could not himself realise the claims he was making were actually bogus? The article also reports that the MPTS is yet to rule on whether Kenyon’s ‘fitness to practice was impaired.’ If he was pardonably misguided, has he himself been misled, or has he misled himself (as CAM cult-devotees are wont to do)? This is perplexing when one considers that, according to his site, Kenyon is ‘GMC registered and has experience of over 30 years in the field.’

The news report also states that the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which regulates his clinic, ‘never found any evidence that the Dove Clinic promoted its treatments with misleading information.’ Which somewhat worryingly doesn’t tally with the MPTS panel’s conclusion that Kenyon’s claims ‘were not backed by good scientific evidence and could not be justified’, does it? And what of the evidence given on Kenyon’s behalf by a Professor Fred Fändrich, who reportedly ‘said he had seen three of Kenyon’s patients who showed reduced tumour size after [the] treatment’? Why did he see them? As follow-up in a properly controlled clinical trial program? Or is this merely post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacious reasoning? As an assertion, it is as scientifically meaningless as any testimonial. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect the MPTS and the CQC to have a better grasp of scientific/clinical evidence than to accept such an irrelevant statement as valid.

Kenyon has cropped up a few times as one of the ‘experts’ at the quackery-apologetic CANCERactive, where he has variously pronounced on, for example, apricot kernels, Traditional Chinese Medicine and high-dose intravenous Vitamin C, often reading as though dispensing advice in seeming contravention of CANCERactive’s adjacently displayed, irresponsibility-enabling disclaimer. His own clinic’s site includes a page listing its ‘Research & Resources‘, with links to various ‘papers’, among which can be found this anti-science gobbledegook, which includes some interesting name-dropping.

Kenyon has been fingered for at least eight years since. How much longer will it take the MPTS to rule on whether Kenyon’s ‘fitness to practice was impaired’? Meanwhile, how many more desperate cancer patients and families will pay for his services? Having been found to have misled patients, will he refund monies to them and/or their families? Will he be compelled to publish a public apology on his clinic’s website? And does misguidedness render medical misguidance untouchable by criminal law?

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