ALS patients exploited | Domenick Braccia, Patricia Kane, Haverford Wellness Center

Patricia Kane has very strange beliefs about diseases like autism and ALS. In 2008 and 2009, she was the subject of well-done stories by journalists at the CBS 3 I-Team and Chicago Tribune.

Kane developed the unproven PK Protocol, which she promoted with her business partner Domenick Braccia at least as far back as 2004. Braccia runs Haverford Wellness Center and is associated with the pseudoscience group ILADS.

Braccia was the subject of a law suit by a former patient, who described “unnecessary and dangerous treatment” and “a cult-like atmosphere.” The patient spent $30,000 on treatment, which destroyed her gallbladder.

See full post: Domenick Braccia


Excerpt from “Autism treatment: Science hijacked to support alternative therapies

Trine Tsouderos and Patricia Callahan, Chicago Tribune reporters, November 23, 2009

Kane says many children with autism have a buildup in their brains of a substance called very-long-chain fatty acids. Her “PK Protocol” — named after her initials — is aimed at burning them off with a prescription drug, phenylbutyrate, that is normally used to treat extremely rare genetic disorders in which ammonia builds up in the body.

Side effects of phenylbutyrate include vomiting, rectal bleeding, peptic ulcer disease, irregular heartbeat and depression. No clinical trials have evaluated this drug as an autism therapy, and the idea that very-long-chain fatty acids have a role in autism is not proven by science.

Kane is not a medical doctor. When treating children with autism, she says, she works in concert with the child’s physician, who supervises treatment.

She said she holds a doctorate in nutrition that was issued by Columbia Pacific University, an unaccredited institution that was shut down after a lengthy court battle with the state of California. An administrative law judge in 1997 found that the school awarded excessive credit for prior experiential learning, failed to employ qualified faculty and didn’t meet requirements for issuing degrees.

Kane said Columbia Pacific granted her a doctorate after the school “consolidated my work,” which Kane described as “clinical work” and continuing medical education courses for doctors. Her doctorate is valid, she said, because it was issued before the university ran into problems with the state.

Last year she was the subject of a television news investigation about her work with patients with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. The disease, which affects motor neurons, is a death sentence.

Janine Schiller, a Pennsylvania mother, went to see Kane. “Dr. Kane flat out told her: ‘You do not have ALS,’ ” said her husband, Tim. “She told her: ‘You have a buildup of neurotoxins in your blood.’ ”

Kane’s protocol involved taking pills, medications and herbal remedies, which Kane sold, Tim Schiller said. In all, the family spent $3,000. But nothing stopped the march of ALS, and Janine Schiller died eight months after her diagnosis.

“The money was trivial compared to the false hope she instilled in us,” Tim Schiller said. “It’s a terrible thing to be preying on people who are going to be dying.”

In her work with children who have autism, Kane emphasizes that she doesn’t rely on what she calls “Mickey Mouse” labs to test for red cell fatty acids in patients’ blood. She uses the Peroxisomal Diseases Laboratory at Kennedy Krieger.

But a spokeswoman for the institute said its autism experts do not endorse the use of phenylbutyrate to treat children with autism.

“There has been no research conducted at the institute which validates the use of phenylbutyrate as an autism treatment,” Elise Babbitt-Welker wrote in an e-mail. “Any suggestion otherwise is a misinterpretation of research data.”


I-Team: False Hope

Jim Osman, September 10, 2008

HAVERFORD (CBS 3) ―

The CBS 3 I-Team investigated a local woman who calls herself a doctor. But Investigative Reporter Jim Osman reports some of her former patients say she is pushing expensive bottles of false hope.

Janine Schiller is a 39 year old mother of three from Bucks County. She has ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease. It has no cure and is ravaging her muscles.

“It’s sad. Very hard, very disappointing,” Schiller said.

But Schiller did have reason for hope. She was desperate and turned to a woman who identifies herself as Patricia Kane of the Haverford Wellness Center.

“I felt like I had a second chance” Schiller told CBS 3’s Jim Osman.

Kane is not a medical doctor, though she does sport a stethoscope in a picture found on her website and says she has a PhD.

But Janine Schiller said Kane told her that she didn’t have ALS, leading her to believe she wasn’t dying after all.

“This is my opportunity someone is going to be able to do something,” Schiller thought.

She said Kane told her she had a build up of toxins that could be remedied by infusions and dozens of supplements.

After spending about $4,000, Schiller felt no better.

A Philadelphia area woman, who asked we not reveal her name, took her mom to see Kane after a medical doctor diagnosed her mother with ALS.

“She said, ‘You don’t have ALS,'” the Philadelphia woman said Kane told her mother.

Her mother died less than a year later of complications from ALS.

“I am aware of people who have spent tens of thousands of dollars and had no effect”, said ALS Association Executive Director Jim Pinciotti.

Doctor Leo McCluskey, a renowned University of Pennsylvania neurologist, said ALS patients facing certain death get desperate.

“Lots of patients do lots of different things to try and ameliorate the disease to slow it down and I haven’t seen any of that work,” said McCluskey.

The I-Team found Kane touts her successes in a pamphlet, but she repeatedly refused to answer any of our questions.

She refused to provide CBS 3’s I-Team with her credentials and did not connect us with clients she claims benefited from her treatments for ALS. Our investigation focused exclusively on her ALS patients.

The Haverford Wellness Center refused to discuss Kane’s position and has refused to answer any questions.


I-Team Follow-Up: False Hope

PHILADELPHIA (CBS 3) ―

There are major developments in the wake of CBS 3 I-Team Investigation of a local woman who calls herself a doctor.

We recently learned that Dr. Patricia Kane, who is not a medical doctor but treated patients at the Haverford Wellness Center, no longer works at the facility in Havertown.

Earlier this year, the I-Team started investigating Kane after uncovering stories from patients like Jeff Repetto, a California man, who spent $50,000 on Kane’s treatments.

Repetto says Kane, who claims to hold a PhD, told him that he didn’t have ALS which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

ALS is a terminal illness which ravages the muscles. He says Kane told him he simply had a build up of toxins. His disease continues to progress and today he can no longer speak.

Janine Schiller, a Bucks County woman, who was diagnosed with ALS by doctors, told us a similar story.

In April, Janine, who struggled to speak to us because of her progressing disease, described how Kane took thousands of dollars from her for treatments. She said Kane told her that she wasn’t dying.

On August 29th, Janine, a wife and mother of three, died from complications of ALS.

“I think that’s one of things that is so stark now, is that Janine was so alive and so vivacious and this house is so empty,” said her husband Tim. “You know there’s a big hole here.”

Janine didn’t live long enough to hear the news that her husband says would have put a smile on her face. The news that Kane is no longer working at the Haverford Wellness Center.

After repeated requests for an interview that were denied by Kane, we recently met Dr. Domenick Braccia on the way out of the Haverford Wellness Center where Kane saw patients.

Dr. Braccia is the medical director at the Haverford Wellness Center who has also denied our repeated requests for an interview.

When we caught up with Dr. Braccia as he left the center, we asked him for his reaction to Kane’s statements telling patients with the terminal disease that they were not dying.

“That is unfounded, that doesn’t happen,” said Braccia as he walked to his car.

As the center’s medical director, Dr. Braccia has known for months about the I-Team investigation and the subsequent inquiry by the Pennsylvania Medical Board. Even so, he repeatedly refused our requests for an interview.

And he refused again to respond on the day we showed up to press for answers.

This week, the CBS 3 I-Team learned that Patricia Kane’s biography and picture were pulled from the Haverford Wellness Center’s website.

She no longer has a job there.

“Janine would’ve been so pleased, she didn’t want anyone else taken advantage of like we had been,” said her husband days after he laid his wife to rest.

Since our investigation began, Kane has refused to provide us with her credentials and did not connect us with the clients she says have benefitted from her treatments for ALS.

It is not clear whether Kane was fired or resigned.

A lawyer for the Haverford Wellness Center would only tell us that Kane is no longer associated with the center and had no further comment.