Pubdate: Thu, 14 Oct 1999
Source: New York Times (NY)
Copyright: 1999 The New York Times Company
Author: The Associated Press


CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) - A doctor who agreed to stop treating heroin addicts
with a controversial rapid detox procedure linked by state investigators to
the deaths of six of his patients defended the practice Thursday, saying "I
was trying to help."

Dr. Lance Gooberman reached an agreement Wednesday with the state Board of
Medical Examiners that temporarily bars him from performing the treatment in
his clinic in a Philadelphia suburb.

He is among only a dozen doctors in the country to perform the treatment
touted as a swift and relatively painless cure for heroin addicts who are
anesthetized while drugs cleanse their brain of heroin.

The treatment costs $2,900 to $3,600 and is not covered by most health
insurance plans.

In a complaint filed earlier this month, the state said the treatment is too
risky and cited the deaths of six people who underwent the procedure. It
accused Gooberman and his associate, Dr. David Bradway, of serious lapses in
medical care and criticized their use of the procedure.

The patients died less than three days after receiving the treatment --
known as Ultra Rapid Opiate Detoxification, according to the complaint. The
deaths occurred between 1995 and last June.

"The only thing ultra about ultra detox was the risk to the health of the
patients," Mark Herr, director of the state Division of Consumer Affairs,
said Thursday. "This is a treatment that is not medically established nor

The state is seeking civil penalties and revocation or suspension of both
doctors' medical licenses. Their lawyer says she will oppose those attempts
at an administrative hearing. A date has not been set.

Gooberman estimates he has performed the ultra rapid detox on 2,300 patients
at his Merchantville clinic since 1995 with few incidents. His lawyer says
there is no evidence the deaths were caused by the treatment, and claims at
least two deaths were related to subsequent cocaine use by the patients.

"There are thousands of them being performed all over the world," Gooberman
said. "I was trying to help patients to the best of my ability."

- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D