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Man Destroys Daughter through CAM, Gets 6 Months

Michael, Scott, Duncan, Jacob, Nick, Thomas, Phil, Gunnar, and John all sent this in via Skepchick and SGU contact forms within a few hours, meaning our Australian audience is so on top of this stuff it’s scary – but not as scary as the actual story.

A father force-fed his daughter (sick with an infected heart) Mannatech dietary supplements instead of taking her for real medical treatment, resulting in brain damage among other horrific disabilities. For permanently disabling this innocent little girl, he will serve six months in prison.

Making the case that much sadder is the fact that the father in question suffers from brain damage himself from a previous injury.

Mannatech is a latter-day pyramid scheme (now known as a multi-level marketing scheme) in which all kinds of promises are made, none of which are delivered upon. The pills have been pushed as cures for series diseases like cancer and Down’s Syndrome, with no studies backing them up. Despite the fact that this little girl was nearly killed by these supplements in 2006, and despite the $11.25 million class-action lawsuit the company lost earlier this year, the Mannatech web site is still alive and kicking, making no claims aside from squishy, safe references to helping your “total wellness,” and “promoting health” for adults and children. Their “Ambrotose® complex” is made from “plant sources” and helps your body’s cells “communicate” with one another. The complex contains “glyconutrients,” a made-up term for simple sugars that have not been proven through any properly controlled studies to help any disease.

There’s not much else to say except that I hope this is the most depressing thing I read today.

8 comments to Man Destroys Daughter through CAM, Gets 6 Months

  • dcardani

    It is depressing. A coworker recently sent around an email encouraging us to buy things we needed through a special link that would let her friend get a portion of the sale to pay for her Mannatech supplements. The word “supplements” immediately set off alarm bells, so I spent about 2 seconds searching and found that the guy who runs the company has been to prison in the past for similar scams, and that the company has been reprimanded and made to change their labeling to no longer claim they cure cancer. (And that’s exactly what this friend-of-a-friend was taking them for!) It was so depressing. I tried to get another coworker who knows her a little better to point her to the info I found, but I don’t know if he ever did. (I didn’t really feel like I knew her well enough to tell her myself, and I’m kind of an insensitive clod anyway, so it probably wouldn’t have ended well.)

  • [...] damages suits the Mannatech folks are still profiting off of it. A little more detail can be found here. The court was told the girl’s mother asked him on a number of occasions to seek medical [...]

  • Cripes!! This is awful, Rebecca. As you say, it’s the most depressing thing I’ve read today. The way the courts view parents’ rights, though, I don’t know what we can do to preclude similar atrocities in the future.

  • russ

    You have to wonder how screwed up the guy’s thought process is to do something like this to their own child. I wonder if he is still brainwashed enough to believe he was doing the right thing. Maybe he constructed some rationalisation in his mind to overcome to horror of what he’d done.

  • DLC

    Wow. Just… wow.
    I’ve had friends fall for various sorts of “MLM” scams and never bought a dollar’s worth of “product” from them. But I’ve also never had any of my friends do serious harm to anyone through their foolish following of the scam.

  • lljames

    Neglect of a child should not be blamed on a supplement company with a product that is 100% non toxic. This was an unfit parent, period.

    I looked into Mannatech the company and found no literature with any claims.

    Also, funny to find out this incident took place in 2006, and yet… The family members cannot be identified.

    I think we need to examine skepticism in the medical arena and investigate the FDA who rush to approve drugs that have killed more each week as well as in third world countries who administer experimental vaccines and kill children overseas before they are approved here.

    I have neighbors who took me to a Mannatech meeting and despite this biased information, they are not anti medical and in fact, raised money for medical paradigm like surgeons and medical scholarships. I guess people will believe anything they read as far as medications and supplements with literature about cures. It cuts both ways. But, I have never seen a Mannatech add from the company that mentioned a cure or treatment.

    MLM is not a scheme. MLM is a highly regulated industry that is in the Direct Selling industry. It is a multi billion dollar industry and growing and is global. It is very misunderstood by those who have never bought or sold goods or services through direct selling.

    For those who have, like a phone service, legal service, high quality supplements etc understand that its legal, not a scheme, so the MLM comments are not informed opinions.

    Keep it real people. The father was brain damaged, unfit parent, and used a supplement so that he could get away with not having visitation rights rather than get this little girl to the doctor right away.

    A supplement company is not to blame otherwise, the company would have gone under trial. No, it was the individual for neglect and psychologically unfit to know that the supplement was a food not a treatment.

    On the Internet, the label clearly states “Not to treat, cure or amiliorate disease” and has said that since 1994 as far as I’ve investigated on my own.

    The company never advertised a cure for cancer. The Texas Attorney General is talking about independent people who have had positive product experiences and are sharing their testimonials to sell their product with others. All companies that have customers who have positive results with a supplement do this.

    I believe we need to bridge the gap of medicine and alternatives and treat them both with seriousness so that there is funding to help create triple blind studies on non toxic supplements and their biological affects in improving quality of life. However, they will still never treat because they are not drugs that elicit or cause an effect.

    Educated people make educated decisions. Ignorant people who are not mentally fit to be a parent should not be a parent, but to blame it on a supplement is ridiculous.

  • MLM is a scam. Only a very small percentage of those involved make money. Listen to the interview on this episode (http://www.theskepticsguide.org/skepticsguide/podcastinfo.asp?pid=135) for more information.

    We acknowledged that the company does not make any disease claims on their official literature. They include the required FDA disclaimer. But their sales people are free to verbally make claims. I know a Mannatech marketer personally – and they made tons of medical claims for their products not supported by evidence.

    This specific story is indeed largely one of personal neglect by an injured parent. However – the culture of anti-scientific and anti-medical establishment thinking that is promoted by the supplement industry contributes to these episodes.

    It is ironic that IIJames insists the industry is no “anti-medical” but then goes on to repeat typical anti-medical establishment propaganda. The FDA does not “rush” drugs to market – when compared to other industrialized countries the FDA is generally more conservative and slower to approve drugs.

  • shawmutt

    Triple blind? Is that more serious than a double blind?

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