Naturopathic Doctor Pleads Guilty to Using Misbranded Drug on Patients

The Peninsula Daily News reported that a Port Angeles, WA area naturopathic physician pleaded guilty in federal court to one count of introducing misbranded drugs into interstate commerce. Richard Marschall prescribed human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to approximately 60 people for weight loss between February 2014 and February 2017.

HCG is a hormone produced by the human placenta during pregnancy. While approved for certain uses, such as treating infertility, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved HCG as a weight loss aid. According to the statement released by the FDA in 2011 about HCG products, the strict 500-calories a day diet prescribed when the hormone is used for weight loss can cause irregular heartbeat, gallstones, and an imbalance of electrolytes that prevents the proper functioning of muscles and nerves.

FDA records show that Marschall previously pleaded guilty to the same charges in 2011. When Marschall was arrested earlier this year, he had been practicing without a valid license for four years, according to a 2015 WA State Department of Health order. Marschall’s troubles go back even further to 1997 when he faced charges of diagnosing and treating patients by telephone, mail, and/or online for Wilson’s Syndrome, an alternative medicine concept not recognized by evidence-based medicine according to the American Thyroid Association.

Per the plea agreement, Marschall faces a sentence of no less than 60 days and no more than six months imprisonment.