Disciplinary Actions against Andrew P. Jones, M.D.
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Andrew P. Jones, M.D. has been disciplined by the Texas Medical Board in connection with his marketing of products through the Internet. In 2006, Jones began operating a Web site under the name "Women's Health Institute of Texas" through which he marketed books and dietary supplement with extravagant claims. The products were marketed by Natural Living Inc, which has a Nevada address. In June 2010, the board ordered Jones to pay a $1,000 administrative penalty for failing to give the board a patient's medical and billing records when ordered to do so by the board. In August 2010, the board filed a complaint (shown below), which stated:
- The advertisements promised a quick and complete cure, creating unjustified expectations about the results of using the recommended products.
- Jones failed to disclose that he was the president and has a financial interest in Natural Living Inc.
- In 2008, when Jones renewed his license, he falsely represented that he was still in active practice even though he had stopped seeing patients in 2006.
- Images of a large office building and interior space were represented as photos of the physical location of the institute. However, the institute had no physical facility.
Jones's initial focus was on migraine headaches. His offerings in 2010 cover premenstrual syndrome (PMS, depression, menopause, vitamin D, thyroid problems, fibromyalgia, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The address Jones used for his "institute" is a rented mailbox at the Postnet store in Sugar Land, Texas. The Better Business Bureau gave "F" ratings to both Women's Health Institute of Texas and Natural Living Inc., for repeated failure to respond to complaints.
This complaint was settled in 2011 with a mediated order under which Jones agreed to pay and administrative penalty of $10,000, remove the alleged violative advertising from the Internet, and complete certain educational requirements. The Web sites mentioned in the complaint are no longer functioning, but Jones has continued similar misrepresentationselsewhere. In January 2014, the Texas Medical Board charged him again with false advertising.
HEARING CONDUCTED BY THE
TEXAS STATE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS
SOAH DOCKET NO. 503-10-5868-MD
LICENSE NO. H-1972
IN THE MATTER OF THE
ANDREW JONES, M.D.
TEXAS MEDICAL BOARD
TO THE HONORABLE TEXAS MEDICAL BOARD AND THE HONORABLE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE TO BE ASSIGNED:
COMES NOW, the Staff of the Texas Medical Board (the "Board"), and files this Complaint against Andrew Jones, M.D., ("Respondent"), based on Respondent's alleged violations of the Medical Practice Act ("the Act"), TEX. Occ. CODE ANN., Title 3, Subtitle B, Chapters 151-165, and would show the following:
The filing of this Complaint and the relief requested are necessary to protect the health and public interest of the citizens of the State of Texas, as provided in Section 151.003 of the Act.
II. LEGAL AUTHORITY AND JURISDICTION
1. Respondent is a Texas Physician and holds Texas Medical License No. H-1972 that was originally issued on August 28, 1987. Respondent's license was in full force and effect at all times material and relevant to this Complaint.
2. Respondent received notice of the Informal Settlement Conference ("ISC") and appeared at the ISC, which was conducted in accordance with §2001.054(c), Govt CODE and §164.004 of the Act. All procedural rules were complied with, including but not limited to, Board Rules 182 and 187, as applicable.
3. No agreement to settle this matter has been reached by the parties.
4. All jurisdictional requirements have been satisfied.
III. FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS
Board Staff has received information and on that information believes that Respondent has violated the Act. Based on such information and belief, Board Staff alleges:
1. Respondent indirectly and/or directly published false, misleading, and/or deceptive statements and images regarding research organizations, businesses, products in which he has a financial interest, competing products, and the number of years he has been in the active practice of medicine. Additionally, Respondent published treatment guidelines and recommendations to website users that violated the standard of care and Board rules that govern the practice of internet-based and/or alternative and complementary medicine. Finally, Respondent submitted false information to the Board regarding his practice status.
2. Advertising Violations:
- Respondent owned or had a financial interest in the internet addresses www.l-menopause.com, www.estro325.com, and www.AndrewJonesMD.com. As of October 1, 2008, the statements and images at issue were published on one or more of his websites.
- Respondent failed to disclose material facts about recommended products advertised on one or more of his websites, including a disclaimer that should have indicated that the recommended products have not obtained approval from the Food and Drug Administration ("FDA").
- As of October 1, 2008, Respondent's recommended products were sold and distributed by Natural Living, Inc. At all times material to the allegations in this Complaint, Respondent was the President and had a financial interest in Natural Living, Inc. Respondent failed to disclose his financial interest in recommending and selling Natural Inc. products.
- Respondent's advertisements for recommended products promised a quick and complete cure, creating an unjustified expectation about the results of using the recommended products.
- Respondent published statements on one or both websites that mischaracterized the properties of competing products.
- On one or more of his websites, Respondent displayed a photo of himself dressed in a white coat and wearing a stethoscope with a caption stating that he was the Medical Director of an institute organized to research and treat menopause. Respondent was misleading the public by trading on his medical license and "white coat" to vouch for the efficacy of his products.
- On one or more of the websites in question, Respondent published photos of a large office building and interior spaces of a building, and represented the images as photos of the physical location of the institute. Respondent's descriptions and photos were misleading and deceptive, because the institute had no physical facility or address. In October of 2008, the institute was located solely on one or more websites providing users access to a collection of articles regarding the topic of menopause.
3. Internet-Based and/or Alternative and Complementary Medicine:
- On one or more of Respondent's websites at issue, Respondent listed general "menopausal treatment guidelines." In the guidelines, Respondent recommends specific dosages and amounts of the recommended products for women to use and apply. The guidelines include further instructions on how and whether to increase the recommended dosages, depending on symptoms experienced.
- On one or more of Respondent's websites at issue, Respondent published statements that directed women who were using competing products to discontinue their use if they began to use Respondent's recommended products, and gave directions on how to discontinue them.
- These statements constituted medical treatment advice and the use of the internet in the practice of medicine.
- Respondent failed to establish a proper physician-patient relationship with the intended users of his products.
- Respondent failed to establish a diagnosis or make treatment recommendations through the use of acceptable medical practices such as completing a patient history, conducting a physical examination, or performing appropriate diagnostic and laboratory testing to establish diagnoses and to identify underlying conditions and/or contra-indications to treatment recommended/provided to the intended users of his products.
- Respondent failed to discuss with the intended users of his products the diagnosis and the evidence tor it, or the risks and benefits of various treatment options.
- Respondent failed to ensure the availability of Respondent or coverage of the intended users of his products for appropriate follow-up care.
4. Submission of False Information to the Board:
- Respondent ceased actively practicing and treating patients in 2006.
- In August of 2008, in the submission of registration renewal materials, Respondent falsely represented that his active practice had continued from the last date of his registration.
The actions of Respondent as specified above violate one or more of the following provisions of the Act:
- Respondent is subject to disciplinary action pursuant to Section 164.051 (a)(l) of the Act based on Respondent's commission of an act prohibited under Section 164.052 of the Act.
- Section 164.051(a)(3) of the Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against Respondent based on Respondent's violation of a rule adopted under this Act, specifically, Board Rules: 164.3, rules regarding physician advertising; 173.2(c), submission of false or misleading information or omission of required information by the physician; 173.3(a), requiring physicians to attest to the physician'S profile information at the time of the physician's registration and to initiate correction of any incorrect information; 174.4, rules regarding the use of internet in medical practice; and 200.3, rules and guidelines of complementary and alternative medicine.
- Section 164.051(a)(6) of the Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against Respondent based on Respondent's failure to practice medicine in an acceptable professional manner consistent with public health and welfare, as further defined by Board Rule(s): 190.8(1)(C) - failure to use proper diligence in one's professional practice; 190.8(1)(D) - failure to safeguard against potential complications; Board Rule 190.8(1)(G) - failure to disclose reasonably foreseeable side effects of a procedure or treatment; 190.8(1)(H) - failure to disclose reasonable alternative treatments to a proposed procedure or treatment; and 190.8(1)(1) - failure to obtain informed consent from the patient or other person authorized by law to consent to treatment on the patient's behalf before performing tests, treatments, or procedures; and 190.8(1)(K) - prescription or administration of a drug in a manner that is not in compliance with Chapter 200 of this title or, that is either not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in human beings or does not meet standards for off-label use, unless an exemption has otherwise been obtained from the FDA.
- Section 164.052(a)(5) of the Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against Respondent based upon Respondent's unprofessional or dishonorable conduct that is likely to deceive or defraud the public or injure the public, as further defined by Board Rule(s): 190.8(2(C), providing false information to the Board; and 190.8(2)(1), using false, misleading, or deceptive advertising.
- Section 164.052(a)(6) of the Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against Respondent based on Respondent using an advertising statement that is false, misleading, or deceptive.
- Sections 164.052(a)(5) and 164.053(a)(5) of the Act authorizes the Board to take disciplinary action against Respondent based on Respondent prescribing or administering a drug or treatment that is nontherapeutic in nature or nontherapeutic in the manner the drug or treatment is administered or prescribed.
V. AGGRAVATING FACTORS
Board Rule 190.15 provides that aggravating factors may be considered that warrant more severe or restrictive disciplinary action. Aggravating factors applicable in this case include:
- Aggravating factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
- economic harm to one or more patients;
- one or more violations that involve more than one patient; and,
- Increased potential harm to the public; and
- Intentional, premeditated, knowing, or grossly negligent act constituting a violation.
VI. APPLICABLE STATUTES, RULES, AND AGENCY POLICY
The following statutes, rules, and agency policy are applicable to the conduct of the contested case:
- Section 164.007(a) of the Act requires that the Board adopt procedures governing formal disposition of a contested case before the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
- 22 TEX. ADMIN. CODE, Chapter 187 sets forth the procedures adopted by the Board under the requirement of Section 164.007(a) of the Act.
- 1 TEX. ADMIN. CODE, CHAPTER 155 sets forth the rules of procedure adopted by SOAH for contested case proceedings.
- TEX. ADMIN. CODE, CHAPTER 155.507, requires the issuance of a Proposal for Decision ("PFD") containing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
- Section 164.007(a) of the Act, Board Rule 187.3 7(d)(2) and Board Rule 190 et. seq., provides the Board with the sole and exclusive authority to determine the charges on the merits, to impose sanctions for violation of the Act or a Board rule, and to issue a Final Order.
VII. NOTICE TO RESPONDENT
IF YOU DO NOT FILE A WRITTEN ANSWER TO THIS COMPLAINT WITH THE STATE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARINGS WITHIN 20 DAYS AFTER THE DATE OF RECEIPT, A DEFAULT ORDER MAY BE ENTERED AGAINST YOU, WHICH MAY INCLUDE THE DENIAL OF LICENSURE OR ANY OR ALL OF THE REQUESTED SANCTIONS, INCLUDING THE REVOCATION OF YOUR LICENSE. A COPY OF ANY ANSWER YOU FILE WITH THE STATE OFFICE OF ADMINISTRATIVE HEARGINS SHALL ALSO BE PROVIDED TO THE HEARINGS COORDINATOR OF THE TEXAS MEDICAL BOARD.
WHEREFORE, PREMISES CONSIDERED, Board Staff requests that an administrative law judge employed by the State Office of Administrative Hearings conduct a contested case hearing on the merits of the Complaint, and issue a Proposal for Decision ("PFD") containing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law necessary to support a determination that Respondent violated the Act as set forth in this Complaint.
TEXAS MEDICAL BOARD
John Heisler, Attorney
Texas State Bar No. 09384100
Telephone: (5 30S-7172
FAX # (512) 305-7007
333 Guadalupe, Tower 3, Suite 610
Austin, Texas 78701
Filed with the Texas Medical Board on this 12th day of August, 2010.
Mari Robinson, J.D.
Texas Medical Board
This page was revised on January 17, 2014.