District Judge Susan Getzendanner found the American Medical Association (AMA) and fourteen associated parties guilty of waging a conspiracy against chiropractors to contain and eliminate them entirely, in violation of the Sherman Antitrust law. Judge Getzendanner ruled,
I conclude that an injunction is necessary in this case. There are lingering effects of this conspiracy; the AMA has never acknowledged the lawlessness of its past conduct and in fact to this day maintains that it has always been in compliance with the antitrust laws.”
The AMA was forced to circulate the contrite Order of Injunction through medical journals, hospitals, and many other outlets, and to cease and desist from obstructing the professional rights of the chiropractic profession. The conviction marked the third time in the century that the AMA was found guilty of antitrust violations for conspiracy and restraint of trade. The medical association was first convicted in 1937 under Dr. Fishbein for trying to destroy an autonomous doctors’ group applying cost-cutting health delivery and insurance in Washington, D.C. It was again found guilty in 1982 by the Federal Trade Commission—a decision upheld by the Supreme Court, just as the earlier conviction was. This time the verdict confirmed the AMA’s decades-long, systematic violation of antitrust statutes.
The AMA is a nonprofit agency whose mission is “to be an essential part of the professional life of every physician and an essential force for progress in improving the nation’s health,” according to the AMA’s website. It makes you wonder, then, why the AMA gladly accepted huge sums of advertising fees from tobacco companies who advertised heavily in its flagship journal, JAMA, throughout the 20th century.
The AMA claims to support “progress,” but history shows that the AMA has worked diligently to block much in the way of real progress in order to control medicine and shut out competition. Consider chiropractic medicine, which is categorized as an “alternative” treatment by most Americans. It involves healing the human body through adjusting the spinal column and other musculoskeletal structures in the body. More than 60,000 chiropractors are practicing in the United States today, and 10,000 students are studying to become doctors of chiropractic medicine, or DCs. It is a legitimate medical practice that often solves medical problems conventional medicine can’t.
As an agency that proclaims itself to be concerned with improving the nation’s health, the AMA has a duty to accept the field of chiropractic medicine as having proven medicinal value. But history shows just the opposite. Until recently, the AMA viewed chiropractors as competition and tried to destroy the practice of chiropractic medicine in its entirety. In When Healing Becomes and Crime, Kenny Ausubel writes, “For over 12 years and with the full knowledge and support of their executive officers, the AMA paid the salaries and expenses for a team of more than a dozen medical doctors, lawyers and support staff for the expressed purpose of conspiring (overtly and covertly) with others in medicine to first contain, and eventually, destroy the profession of chiropractic in the United States and elsewhere.”
This was not speculation. The actions taken by the U.S. Court of Appeals 7th circuit support Ausubel’s accusation. In 1990, chiropractic doctors Chester A. Wilk, James W. Bryden, Patricia B. Arthur and Michael D. Pedigo won a landmark antitrust lawsuit against the AMA. The court ruled that the AMA had violated the Sherman Act by “conducting an illegal boycott in restraint of the trade directed at chiropractors generally, and at the four plaintiffs in particular.” This 1990 verdict against the AMA followed three other antitrust cases against the association in 1978, 1980 and 1986, all of which were settled.
The fact that the AMA tried to eliminate the profession of chiropractic is fairly well known in the medical community. But there are other skeletons in the AMA’s closet that aren’t as well known. Have you ever heard of Morris Fishbein? The University of Chicago’s Center for History of Science and Medicine is named after him. He was editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) from 1924-1949. Oh, and he was a racketeer, too.
Fishbein apparently operated the AMA for the sole purpose of dominating medicine and discrediting anything he could not control. He also masterminded a scam where he determined what products were fit to carry the AMA’s “seal of acceptance” and then accepted money from the manufacturers of those products in exchange for permission to use the AMA seal.
But in reality, the association had no facilities in which to conduct tests of foods or drugs to evaluate their so-called “fitness.” Gaining the seal was merely a matter of paying Fishbein shady advertising fees to feature the products in AMA publications. Those fees were in fact “protection” fees paid to keep AMA membership. As editor of JAMA, Fishbein had full control over what information reached the public and what did not.
Thanks to Fishbein, you most likely haven’t heard of the Rife Beam Ray. It is a holistic treatment for cancer and infectious diseases. Fishbein single-handedly stifled its research when he learned of the technology. “Sadly, the research was suppressed by medical authorities under the covert direction of Morris Fishbein … who sought to buy into and control the use of the Rife Beam Ray,” writes Richard Gerber, author of Vibrational Medicine. “Fishbein (who was later convicted of racketeering charges) was spurned by Rife [creator of Beam Ray treatment] when he attempted to buy into his company. In response, Fishbein decided that if he could not control the therapy, he would suppress it.”
Although Fishbein’s legacy is tainted with corruption and his misuse of an agency the public trusts, he is remembered by many as the AMA’s spokesman for medical orthodoxy, which advocates sticking to what is commonly accepted, customary or traditional.
Take the case of Hoxsey Cancer Clinic in Dallas, which was the world’s largest private cancer center in the 1950s. Harry Hoxsey, the clinic’s founder, was a self-taught healer who treated cancer patients with herbal folk remedies that proved amazingly effective.
“A Dallas judge ruled in federal court that Hoxsey’s therapy was ‘comparable to surgery, radium and x-ray in its effectiveness, without the destructive side effects of those treatments’,” writes Dr. John Heinerman in Natural Pet Cures. “[Hoxsey] faced unrelenting opposition and harassment from a hostile medical establishment. [But] even his archenemies, the American Medical Association and the Food and Drug Administration, admitted that his treatment could cure some forms of cancer.” Despite the courts’ approval of Hoxsey’s treatment, the Dallas clinic was shut down in the 1950s at the end of the McCarthy Era. “The AMA, NCI (National Cancer Institute), and FDA organized a ‘conspiracy’ to ‘suppress’ a fair, unbiased assessment of Hoxsey’s methods, according to a 1953 report to Congress,” writes Heinerman.
But that was all in the 50s. Surely the AMA has improved with time, right? Perhaps not. According to a 1998 article in The New York Times, the AMA paid Sunbeam Corp. $9.9 million to avoid a breach-of-contract trial with the company after pulling out of a five-year, multi-million-dollar endorsement deal. The AMA would have made millions of dollars in royalties by endorsing Sunbeam’s blood pressure monitors, humidifiers and other products, but the association backed out of the deal after being criticized because it had no plans to test the products. The AMA had basically made a profit-making deal to endorse products they had no plans of testing beforehand. The AMA only pulled out once the public got wind of the deal.
Does this situation sound familiar? It sounds a bit Fishbein-esque; although Fishbein’s “seal of acceptance” program was abandoned in 1955 after a lawsuit was brought against the AMA. It was settled out of court – much like the Sunbeam suit.
After the settlement with Sunbeam, the AMA said it was “now fully focused on its historic mission to serve America’s patients and the quality of American medicine.” What, then, had been its focus before the Sunbeam settlement? Was it making money? Was it controlling what medical information is “fit” to reach the American public?
Despite the fact that the AMA is stated to be a nonprofit association, it nevertheless has a troublesome history of focusing on money and control. Even its longtime campaign against chiropractic medicine appears grounded in money-making motives, since the association was attempting to eliminate orthodox medicine’s “competition.”