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Alternative practitioner on trial after the death of three cancer patients
On Friday, a trial against a medical practitioner for negligent killing started in three cases at the district court in Krefeld. The 61-year-old is said to have mixed drugs for cancer patients with an unsuitable balance. This is why the lethal drug overdose occurred.
Negligent homicide in three cases
At the district court in Krefeld, a trial against a naturopath started on Friday, who is charged with negligent killing in three cases and negligent violation of the drug law in four cases. The 61-year-old from North Rhine-Westphalia is accused of having mixed drugs for cancer patients with an unsuitable balance. Three of these patients died from the effects of an overdose. The therapy was stopped in another patient.
Infusions with the substance 3-bromopyruvate
The naturopath from Moers, Lower Rhine, had "mainly treated patients who had cancer in his practice in the municipality of Brüggen," according to an older press release from the Krefeld District Court.
"As part of these treatments, he gave four patients, among other things, infusions with the substance 3-bromopyruvate in order to lead the cancer cells to cell death and thus to fight the cancer."
In July 2016, four patients had a weighing error when preparing the individually produced infusion solutions, which resulted in an overdose with 3-bromopyruvate.
According to the information, the weighing errors were based on the fact that the scale was not suitable for weighing small quantities and that there were no control measures to check the correctness of the dosage.
Died from overdose
"Due to the overdose, three of the four patients died in the following days," the message continues.
Another patient suffered from nausea and malaise, among other things.
Therapy in this woman was discontinued after the first infusion.
"The defendant could and should have recognized and prevented the overdosage with 3-bromopyruvate while taking due care and due care when treating his patients," wrote the court.
The accused sees himself innocent
The defendant, however, now denied all guilt in court. "I have a good feeling that I worked properly and cleanly," said the naturopath, according to a message from the dpa news agency.
The 61-year-old regrets the incident and has had sleepless nights since then, but he cannot explain how the three deaths could have happened.
According to the information, the drug in the various cases was three to six times too high.
No hope of healing
The accused, who had taken his naturopath exam in 2010, said on the first day of the trial that in the Brüggen community in which he had worked since September 2014, cancer patients were treated almost exclusively - often “hopeless cases”.
According to him, he first came into contact with the experimental active ingredient 3-bromopyruvate (3-BP) at the turn of 2015/2016.
This substance has no approval as a drug on the German market, the Bund Deutscher Heilpraktiker (BDH) explains in an older message.
The accused stated that he had given his patients no hope of recovery, but he had the impression that the active ingredient would help some patients.
One of the men treated with it "at the beginning could not walk alone, after the second week of treatment he went for a walk with the dogs again", according to the alternative practitioner according to dpa.
According to the information, this patient later died from the administration of a solution for infusion with the active ingredient 3-BP.
The accused stated that he had always prepared each infusion right before the dose.
He took the powder from a large bottle with a small measuring spoon and weighed it. This went on for weeks and months.
When the three patients had physical discomfort on the same day after 3-BP treatment at the end of July 2016, it was the first time that something had not gone according to plan.
The scale used was unsuitable
When the presiding judge asked the accused whether he had only used his eyes instead of using the scales, the defendant replied: "I used the scales, without exception."
He also adhered to the recommended dosage of two to four milligrams. According to the dpa, the indictment speaks of seven to twelve milligrams, which are said to have been administered in the present cases.
The new scale, which he bought in April 2016, was more hygienic to use than the old one. But according to the prosecutor, the device was not verified. According to the manufacturer, it is not possible to weigh very small quantities.
As further explained by the German press agency, it was also discussed at the trial that the accused received new bottles of 3-BP the day before the treatment of the three patients who died later: powder in four plastic bottles. Previously, the containers were made of glass.
Could the substance have been chemically tainted? Or can the active ingredient 3-bromopyruvate alone have been harmful?
According to the information, the defendant already expressed these concerns in an email correspondence with his supplier on the July day in question.
"I didn't want to continue using them for patients after these three were doing so badly," said the 61-year-old according to dpa, "I deeply regret today that I threw them away."
Fourth patient in poor health
A total of ten days of trial were scheduled for the trial of the alternative practitioner.
At the next appointment on April 5, the suspect is said to show in the courtroom how he used to mix the drug.
Witnesses such as relatives of the victims should also be heard at later trial days.
According to the judge, the fourth patient, in whom the questionable "alternative medical" treatment was stopped, was in poor health and could not participate.
Information about alternative healing methods
Health experts repeatedly point out that biological cancer therapy is by no means a therapy that can be seen as an “alternative”.
Any additional therapy must be done in consultation with the treating doctor.
Information on alternative healing methods for cancer can be found on the online platform of the complementary medicine in oncology competence network (KOKON). The project is funded by the German Cancer Aid. (ad)