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Bothell physician suspended for misleading patients

Dr. John Catanzaro  - Courtesy photo
Dr. John Catanzaro
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Bothell naturopathic physician Dr. John Catanzaro is suspended and facing charges for allegedly duping cancer patients into treatment with an unapproved experimental vaccine. Catanzaro is the founder and president of the Health and Wellness Institute in Bothell.

The Board of Naturopathy and the Washington State Department of Health took the action against the license of Catanzaro for failing to appropriate protocols for implementing cancer research on people and obtaining investigational new drug approval from the Federal Drug Administration. The charges state Catanzaro, "did not disclose the experimental nature of a cancer treatment to his patients, who believed the vaccine administered to them was effective and that the research was approved when it was not."

The board found Catanzaro to be an "immediate danger" to the public's health, safety and welfare. They ordered his credential to practice as a physician be suspended and that all credentials, including wall, display and/or wallet be delivered to the department, according to state documents.

The Reporter repeatedly tried to contact Catanzaro for comment but his employees said legal representatives told them not to comment or give out any information.

"I was surprised when I heard about these allegations against John," said Dr. Jane Guilitinan, Dean of the School of Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University in Kenmore. "John was a student of mine when he was completing his degree at Bastyr and always did well in the program; there were never any issues or concerns about him."

If the investigation proves true, Guilitinan said she would be very disappointed in Catanzaro.

"This is clearly not the way we train our medical students at Bastyr to behave," she said. "It's true of all patients that you are in a vulnerable place when you come for care, but cancer patients are especially vulnerable because they are afraid and can be susceptible to falling prey to someone that will take advantage of them."

Guilitinan pointed out that patients should use this as a lesson and remember to always question any health care team or doctor.

"Patients should always question everything, do their own research and be clearly informed," Guilitinan said. "I think one positive thing that has come from this extremely unfortunate incident is that the Washington State Department of Health's regulation and licensing system is working, they are investigating and resolving an issue in a timely matter and at least we can rest easy about that."

The documents also cite Catanzaro for not performing thorough clinical exams or keeping adequate patient records, ultimately calling the treatment a risk for patients, and his use of it, unethical, lowering the standards of his profession under the guise of hope for cancer patients.

According to the Department of Health, Catanzaro has not yet notified his patients but has the responsibility to do so.

He has 20 days to request a hearing and contest the charges.

The legal documents can be seen online by clicking, "look up a healthcare provide" at www.doh.wa.gov/.

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