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Mark Geier’s Lupron Scandal
How one doctor lost his medical license over Lupron – and why hundreds more haven’t.
Between 2006 and 2011, Dr. Mark Geier of Maryland filed three U.S. patent applications pushing a Lupron protocol that could allegedly cure autism. When administered to autistic children, these patent applications claim, Lupron cures everything from runny stools to behavioral issues. Test subjects showed “significant improvements” in “speech/language/communication skills … sensory cognitive awareness skills … health/physical/behavior skills … and sociability skills.” For at least one girl dosed with Lupron, “periods also became regular and without pain.”
“Lupron is the miracle drug,” Geier reportedly told his autistic patients.
Lupron was originally marketed for use in advanced prostate cancer patients. It is one of a class of drugs known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonists, or GnRH agonists, designed to interrupt the body’s natural hormone production. Under normal conditions, the human body produces its own GnRH in pulses, stimulating the pituitary gland (which regulates hormone production throughout the body) and telling the gonads it’s time to produce sex hormones: estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone. Unlike the natural, pulsatile production of GnRH, pharmaceutical GnRH agonists release artificial GnRH on a continuous basis. In so doing, they overload the pituitary gland. This results in an initial burst of hormone overproduction, after which the body starts ignoring the incoming GnRH in self-defense.
When the pituitary gland stops processing GnRH, the gonads stop producing sex hormones. And sex hormones are important. Besides their reproductive functions, they’re also involved in regulating bone density, brain function, natural DNA repair, and the immune system. In preteens and teenagers, they cause the adolescent growth spurt – which is responsible for causing the bones, brain, and internal organs to mature in the first place.
Given the risks that Lupron carries, it’s not surprising that Mark Geier lost his license for prescribing it to children. Geier’s Maryland license was suspended in 2011, and has never been reinstated. Today, he’s not licensed to practice medicine anywhere in the U.S.
The findings of the Maryland State Board of Physicians in Geier’s case are pretty damning – not only of Geier, but also of Lupron itself. According to the findings, which can be found here:
Lupron is also used to chemically castrate sex offenders. (p. 6)
With regard to administering Lupron to autistic children, [Geier] has been quoted as saying, ‘If you want to call it a nasty name, call it chemical castration. If you want to call it something nice, say you are lowering testosterone.’ (p. 6)
Adverse side effects of Lupron in children include, but are not limited to, risk of bone and heart damage. (p. 6)
[Geier] was reported to have stated in a 2006 radio interview that Lupron is ‘99% natural … there are virtually no side effects.’ (p. 7)
[Geier] misdiagnosed six (6) of the nine (9) autistic children whose care is reviewed herein with precocious puberty. (p. 7)
The complainant alleged that [Geier] … [e]xperimented on children without a rational scientific theory or the supervision of a qualified review board; and [f]ailed to provide appropriate informed consent regarding the potential side effects of Lupron. (p. 10)
[Geier] endangers autistic children and exploits their parents by administering to the children a treatment protocol that has a known substantial risk of serious harm. (p. 15)
This document provides many good reasons to remove Geier from the doctor’s office, not least his repeated failure to examine his patients properly, the fact that he misrepresented his credentials, and his habit of misdiagnosing patients, possibly on purpose, in order to make his Lupron treatments appear legitimate. But the most shocking detail of this story will always be that Geier knowingly singled out autistic children for chemical castration.
Autism, as all three of Geier’s patent applications describe it, “is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social relatedness and communication, repetitive behaviors, abnormal movements, and sensory dysfunction.” The patent applications allege that Lupron improved these children’s communication skills, behavior, and sociability. In other words, Geier claimed that by chemically castrating autistic children, he could make them fit into social norms.
To recap: Mark Geier lost his medical license for singling out children who did not fit social norms, assigning them a bogus diagnosis based on inadequate assessment, administering chemical castration drugs to them off-label and unsupervised, and downplaying the side effects of those drugs to his patients, their parents, and the media.
If this story sounds familiar to you, that’s because hundreds of U.S. “gender doctors” are reenacting it every day. The DSM-V entry for “gender dysphoria” in children singles out those who don’t fit social norms (those who play “cross-gender roles” and prefer “toys, games or activities stereotypically used or engaged in by the other gender”). Diagnoses are often assigned with “rubber-stamp” assessments. Lupron is administered off-label, without adequate scientific study or the supervision of a review board. And the doctors who do it downplay Lupron’s effects over and over again, using one (patently false) word: “reversible.”
So why are these doctors still in business, while Mark Geier is not?
One reason is simple star power. Mark Geier and his son David, with whom he jointly filed the 2006-07 patents, are not a particularly suave-looking pair, and they often sound like stereotypical snake-oil salesmen (“miracle drug,” anyone?). It’s easy to look at Mark Geier and think quack – a statement which goes double for David, who, despite being listed as co-author on all three of his father’s patents, has no medical degree. But with many of today’s slick, degree-holding, jargon-spouting “gender doctors,” you have to look past the surface. That’s work that most people – including most medical board members – aren’t willing to do.
The other reason is widespread homophobia within the U.S. medical and psychological establishment.
Today, doctors who administer Lupron to physically healthy children do so under cover of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders V (DSM-V). The DSM-V entry for “gender dysphoria” targets children who display extreme non-conformity to sex stereotypes – often an early sign of homosexuality (see, e.g., Li, Kung, and Hines 2017). And it is the latest in a long line of entries explicitly or implicitly targeting homosexuals, from the explicit inclusion of homosexuality in DSM-I to “sexual orientation disturbance” in DSM-II, “ego-dystonic homosexuality” in DSM-III, and “gender identity disorder” in DSM-III and -IV. Nearly a dozen state medical boards were willing to step in and stop Mark Geier from poisoning autistic kids. But for the thousands of poisoned kids across the U.S. who are or seem likely to be homosexual, the medical establishment has very little sympathy.
(That last source, by the way, is the American Psychiatric Association’s website. Though they go to great lengths to deny it, the APA’s own materials make it obvious that the fiction of “gender identity” is based on a pathologizing view of sexual orientation.)
This is not to say that all of the children harmed by “gender doctors” will grow up to be lesbian or gay. Some are heterosexuals who just don’t fit into stereotypes. Some are falling for a popular trend. And some – once again – have autism. Two recent studies, Zucker et al. 2017 and van der Miesen et al. 2018, have suggested that young people diagnosed with “gender dysphoria” are more likely than the general population to have symptoms of autism. And in 2020, the Swedish Board of Health and Welfare reported that 15.2% of “gender dysphoric” Swedish girls ages 13-17 also had autism (wildly disproportionate, considering the CDC’s 2020 report that only 0.69% of girls have autism).
So why isn’t the medical establishment sticking up for autistic children now, as it did (however belatedly) during the Geier scandal? Why isn’t it sticking up for heterosexual teens who are caught up in the fad of ROGD (“rapid-onset gender dysphoria”)? It’s because the DSM has enabled the medical abuse of all children who don’t fit social norms by implicitly linking them to (ever-pathologized) homosexuals. The entry for “gender dysphoria” may most obviously target homosexuals, but anyone can get caught in the crossfire.
“Gender dysphoria” wasn’t written into the DSM until 2013, two years after Mark Geier’s license was revoked. We can only speculate about what would have happened if the DSM-V had been published in 2005 instead. Perhaps Geier would have used it to justify his Lupron experiment, and would therefore have kept his license. Perhaps not. What we can say for certain is this: In 2022, if a doctor wants to single out children who don’t fit social norms and subject them to a horrific medical experiment, he is free to do so without the risk of getting caught misdiagnosing central precocious puberty. All he has to do is glance at the DSM-V entry for “gender dysphoria,” whose vague and circular wording makes it impossible to get caught in a misdiagnosis. And the APA, with its long history of pathologizing homosexuals and the non-stereotypical behaviors that often correlate with homosexuality, will back him up.