Chelationist Robert Burkich, M.D.
Sued for Medicare Fraud
Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Federal prosecutors have filed a False Claims Act complaint in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta against Robert Burkich, M.D., and Preventive Medicine Anti-Aging & Chelation, Inc. of Ringgold, Georgia . The complaint alleges that between September 2009 and January 2017:
- Burkich and/or his clinic improperly collected $3.1 million from Medicare. Approximately $2.8 million of this amount was paid for chelation therapy which Burkich falsely claimed was for treating heavy metal poisoning. The drug he used for this purpose—edetate calcium disodium—is FDA approved for treating lead poisoning, which the patients did not have.
- Burkich the results of widely discredited "provoked" urine tests to tell patients that they had "heightened" levels of heavy metal, which chelation could reduce, thereby alleviating a host of medical problems, such as high blood pressure, poor circulation, premature aging, and sexual dysfunction.
- In approximately 2000, Burkich moved his practice from Tennessee to Georgia based upon his belief that Georgia had more liberal standards concerning what type of treatments he could provide to potential patients. In 2017,he testified that his understanding was that Tennessee only allowed chelation therapy to be rendered as a treatment to patients suffering from heavy metal poisoning. and that he wanted the "freedom" provide it for "experimental" uses such as treating atherosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
- When asked to identify what symptoms were indicative of heavy metal poisoning or exposure, Burkich testified that "it can be almost any symptom you can imagine."
- Whereas chelation treatment for heavy poisoning should be limited to a few sessions and tied to a patient's confirmed blood levels of lead, Burkich minimized the importance of lab results and treated patients as many as 188, 207, and 286 times.
Edetate calcium disodium has a black box warning that it is "capable of producing toxic effects that can be fatal."  The complaint stated that "provoked urine tests are unreliable, potentially dangerous, and should not be utilized in diagnosing heavy metal poisoning."
This is not the first time Burkich has has legal difficulty. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud and was placed on probation for a year, directed to perform 150 hours of community service, and ordered to pay a $4,000 fine plus a $100 assessment. According to news reports, the case involved a scheme to defraud by falsifying the theft of automobiles in order to claim them as stolen for insurance purposes. In response to the conviction, his Georgia medical license was revoked in 2003, his Tennessee medical license was revoked in 2004, and his narcotic registration was revoked in 2005.. Tennessee reinstated Burkich's medical license in 2008, and Georgia did the same in 2011. News reports indicate that in 2014, a jury upheld a malpractice claim filed by a man who had consulted Burkich for help with fatigue and low sex drive. Burkich treated him with testosterone (a male hormone) and Tamoxifen, a hormone that is commonly prescribed to women with breast cancer but can case blood clots. After the man developed a blood clot and was hospitalized, he blamed Burkich and filed suit. In 2004, a jury awarded him $40,000, but the amount to which he was entitled was raised to $250,000 because of a high-low agreement made while the jury was deliberating 
At least ten state licensing boards, including Georgia's board, have taken regulatory action against doctors who have used provoked testing as a prelude to chelation . No disciplinary action has been taken against Burkich, His physician profile at Georgia's Composite State Board of Medical Examiners lists his specialty as internal medicine, but he is not board-certified.
A similar case is pending against Charles C. Adams, M.D.; Charles C. Adams, M.D., P.C. d/b/a Full Circle Medical Center; and Personal Integrative Medicine LLC in Ringgold .
The documents from the False Claims Act against Burkich will be posted here as they become available.
|Date||#||Document (Case No. 1:19-cv-03510-MLB)|
- The United States files false claims act complaint against Robert Burkich, M.D. and affiliated entity. USDOJ news release, Aug 12, 2019.
- Calcium disodium versenate. 3M Pharmaceuticals package insert, July 2004.
- Barrett S. Legal difficulties of Robert A. Burkich, M.D., Chelation Watch, August 14, 2019.
- Barrett S. How "provoked" urine metal tests are used to mislead patients. Quackwatch, Nov 23, 2018.
- Barrett S. Chelationist Charles C. Adams, M.D., sued for Medicare fraud. Chelation Watch, Aug 14, 2019.
This article was posted on August 14, 2019.