Rashid Ali Buttar (born January 20, 1966) is an American osteopathic physician from Charlotte, North Carolina, also known as a conspiracy theory and vaccine hesitancy proponent. He is known for his controversial use of chelation therapy for numerous conditions, including autism and cancer. He has twice been reprimanded by the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners for unprofessional conduct and cited by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for illegal marketing of unapproved and adulterated drugs.
|Education||Des Moines University|
|Known for||Conspiracy theories, |
The son of Pakistani parents, Buttar was born in London in 1966. He immigrated with his parents to the U.S. at the age of 9 and grew up in rural Rosebud, Missouri. He attended Washington University, graduating with a bachelor's degree in biology and religion, and then earned a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences in Des Moines, Iowa.
Buttar claims to be board certified by several entities, all of which are listed as "questionable organizations" by Quackwatch including the American Academy of Preventative Medicine, American Academy of Integrative Medicine, and American College for Advancement in Medicine; the latter's primary purpose being the promotion of chelation therapy.
In 2007, Buttar was brought before the North Carolina Board of Medical Examiners, accused of unprofessional conduct for providing ineffectual therapies to four cancer patients. Three of those patients later died. Following public hearings in 2008, the panel recommended that Buttar's license "be suspended indefinitely" and that he be prohibited from treating children or patients with cancer, but stayed the decision, ultimately giving Buttar a formal reprimand in 2010 while allowing him to continue to practice.
Buttar has been criticized for his use of chelation therapies, such as topical cream containing chelators to treat children with autism, and for his use of intravenous hydrogen peroxide and EDTA to treat cancer. He came to public attention in 2009 when he alleged to have successfully used chelation therapy to treat Desiree Jennings, a Washington Redskins cheerleading ambassador who had made dubious claims about suffering from dystonia and losing her ability to walk or talk normally after receiving a flu shot. Reporting on the case, Discover described Buttar as a "a prominent anti-vaccine doctor who treats 'vaccine damage' cases".
In July 2009, Buttar and his wife Debbie achieved the rank of "blue diamond" within the distributor network of the multi-level marketing company Monavie, which sold an acai-based beverage until going into foreclosure in 2015.
In April 2010, the FDA sent Buttar a warning letter for illegally marketing unapproved topical creams as drugs via his websites, YouTube videos, and radio appearances. FDA inspections also revealed that Buttar's company, V-SAB Medical Labs, had not complied with good manufacturing practices and that its products were adulterated according to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
In 2011, as a result of the disciplinary action in North Carolina, the Hawaii Medical Board denied Buttar a medical license.
In 2019, the North Carolina Medical Board disciplined Buttar after receiving two complaints. In one case, a physician was worried that Buttar's treatment of a cancer patient hindered appropriate treatment and increased the patient's pain and suffering. In the other case, Buttar admitted that his personal relationship with the parent of a young patient constituted a boundary violation. Buttar and the Medical Board settled the complaints in a Consent Order that included a reprimand and a requirement to take courses in ethics and recordkeeping. Buttar acknowledged that his conduct constituted "unprofessional conduct including, but not limited to, departure from or the failure to conform to the ethics of the profession." Additionally, regarding the cancer patient, Buttar acknowledged that his documentation of care "failed to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice".
In March 2021, an analysis by the Center for Countering Digital Hate of Twitter and Facebook anti-vaccine content found Buttar to be one of the top twelve individual and organization accounts producing up to 65% of all anti-vaccine content on the platforms.
COVID-19 conspiracy theories and misinformationEdit
During the 2019-20 coronavirus pandemic, a series of videos featuring Buttar were posted to YouTube by the fake news website Next News Network. In these videos, Buttar advanced a conspiracy theory claiming that NIAID director Anthony Fauci's research helped to create COVID-19. He made many other false claims, such as that 5G cell phone networks and "chemtrails" cause COVID-19. YouTube removed the video a week after it was posted, replacing it with a message saying, "This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines."
- Turvill, William (May 6, 2020). "Youtube conspiracy theory videos removed after Press Gazette probe". Press Gazette. Retrieved May 7, 2020.
- Avila, Jim (July 23, 2010). "Medical Mystery or Hoax: Did Cheerleader Fake a Muscle Disorder?". ABC News. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
- "Medical board reprimands Mecklenburg doctor of osteopathy", (March 26, 2010) WCNC. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
- "Consent Order, In re Rashid Ali Buttar" (PDF). North Carolina Medical Board. February 6, 2019. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- Szabo, Liz (June 18, 2013). "Book raises alarms about alternative medicine". USA Today. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
- "FDA Warning Letter to Rashid Buttar, D.O. (13-ATL-15)". Casewatch. Department of Health and Human Services. November 25, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- "FDA Warns Boehringer, V-SAB Of Manufacturing Practice Violations". Bloomberg Law. May 21, 2013. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- Karen Garloch (January 14, 2008), "Complaints hit doctor's treatments for cancer", The Hour. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
- "Rashid A. Buttar CV" (PDF). drbuttar.com. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- Barrett, Stephen. "Questionable Organizations: An Overview". Quackwatch. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- "Business Digest: Medical Spa and Rejuvenation Center". The Charlotte Observer. July 27, 2008. pp. 19N. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
- Fitzpatrick, Michael (2008). Defeating Autism: A Damaging Delusion. Routledge. pp. 63–64. ISBN 9781134058983.
- Breland, Ali (April 15, 2020). "Wellness Influencers Are Spreading QAnon Conspiracies About the Coronavirus". Mother Jones. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- "Transcript of hearing before the North Carolina Medical Board in the matter of Rashid Ali Buttar, D.O." (PDF). Quackwatch. April 23, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- Garloch, Karen. (April 25, 2008). "Medical panel: Restrict doctor", The Charlotte Observer. Archived from the original on May 7, 2008.
- "Huntersville doctor accepts reprimand, keeps unorthodox work" (March 31, 2010). WBTV. Retrieved April 13, 2020.
- Atwood KC; Woeckner E; Baratz RS; Sampson WI (May 13, 2008). "Why the NIH Trial to Assess Chelation Therapy (TACT) should be abandoned". Medscape J Med. 10 (5): 115. PMC 2438277. PMID 18596934.
- Hamblin, James (September 17, 2014). "There Is No "Alternative Medicine"". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 31, 2015.
- "The Needle and the Damage (Not) Done". Discover. November 9, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- "Real? A Hoax? Or Something Else? Did A Flu Shot Cause Woman To Get Dystonia? To Be Broadcast Thursday, February 4th". Inside Edition. February 4, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- "Flu Shot Woman". Inside Edition. February 4, 2010. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- "MonaVie's Newest Blue Diamonds—Dr. Rashid and Debbie Buttar". Monavie LLC. July 21, 2009. Archived from the original on December 6, 2009. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
- "Licensee Information, Rashid Ali Buttar". North Carolina Medical Board. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
- Srikanth, Anagha (March 24, 2021). "12 prominent people opposed to vaccines are responsible for two-thirds of anti-vaccine content online: report". The Hill. Archived from the original on March 25, 2021. Retrieved March 25, 2021.
- Lewis, Paul (February 2, 2018). "'Fiction is outperforming reality': how YouTube's algorithm distorts truth". The Guardian. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
- Timberg, Craig (November 24, 2016). "Russian propaganda effort helped spread 'fake news' during election, experts say". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2020.
- Cook, Jesselyn (April 7, 2020). "A Toxic 'Infodemic': The Viral Spread Of COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories". Huffington Post. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- Kaplan, Alex (April 20, 2020). "YouTube took down a coronavirus conspiracy theory video for violating its rules, but it's making money through ads on reuploads". Media Matters for America. Retrieved May 1, 2020.
- "Pandemic Profiteers" (PDF). Center for Countering Digital Hate. Center for Countering Digital Hate. June 1, 2021. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 2, 2021. Retrieved June 3, 2021.