'Doctor' Promoting Roca Labs Actually A Pediatrician Who Lost His Medical License For Child Porn

from the this-company-seems-so-trustworthy dept

Over the last few weeks we’ve been writing a bit about the legal efforts of Roca Labs, the company selling an “alternative” to gastric bypass surgery, which is actually a bunch of “industrial food thickening agents” that the company claims will fill up your stomach and not make you want to eat. Whether or not that actually works, the company has a bizarre gag order that it pushes on buyers which forbids them from ever saying anything negative about the company (and requiring them to allow Roca to share any positive results). That was already sketchy enough, but what caught our attention was that the company sued PissedConsumer claiming it was “tortious interference” to request complaints about the company, since so many of its buyers had agreed to this gag clause. We found that legal theory to be quite questionable, in our opinion. Things got even more bizarre after Roca decided to threaten with lawsuits the three former customers who agreed to provide evidence for PissedConsumer (even though it hadn’t communicated with two of them for more than three years).

There was a hearing on Wednesday where the court rejected PissedConsumer’s request to stop Roca from threatening to sue those customers, though the reasoning is unclear right now (I assume it will come out soon). The court is still considering Roca’s request for an injunction against PissedConsumer.

In the meantime, however, Adam Steinbaugh has decided to dig into the Roca Labs story, and found something rather horrifying. A guy that Roca Labs was using to promote their stuff was actually a pediatrician who had lost his medical license because of his involvement with child porn. When Steinbaugh asked Roca about this, Roca suddenly pulled down any and all content on their website and on YouTube (there was a video of “Dr. Ross F.” promoting Roca which had been here, but it has now been set to “private”).




Steinbaugh summarizes how Roca used Dr. Ross F.:


Roca Labs? website and YouTube channel are saturated with images of attractive men and women wearing lab coats emblazoned with the caduceus ? a symbol commonly associated with doctors and medical professionals ? leaving the viewer with the impression that these are educated, licensed professionals. This is a product I can trust!

Until yesterday, Roca Labs held out one such doctor ? ?Dr. Ross? ? as its ?Director of Medical Team?, hailing from ?NJ, USA.? The company rarely identified him by his full name, instead severing his last name to a mere initial. In a ?Letter to Your Doctor?, Dr. Ross described himself as ?an independent medical consultant? describing the ?Roca Labs Formula? to assure his ?fellow doctor? as to its benefits. The letter was signed with his full name, followed by ?MD? ? medical doctor.

But, he notes, Dr. Ross (whose full name Steinbaugh has redacted) no longer has a medical license:

This allegation is corroborated by an Order of Revocation from the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, which incorporates a plea agreement, and an Order for Non Practice of Medicine from the New York State Department of Health. The substance of the agreement was that the Dr. Ross ? a pediatrician ? surrendered his licenses to practice medicine in New Jersey and New York and was prohibited from seeking a ?license to practice medicine in any jurisdiction at any time in the future.?

The New Jersey order also includes prohibitions which ?not only bar[] a licensee from rendering professional services, but also from providing an opinion as to professional practice or its application? and requires ?affirmative action to stop advertisements by which his/her eligibility to practice is represented.?

And yet, until earlier this week, “Dr. Ross” claimed to be the medical director at the company and claimed to “review each case for medical accuracy.”


In addition to the advertisements above, there?s also this now-deleted post, under the ?ask the doctor? in which Dr. Ross F. recounts his role in the company:

I have reviewed thousands of formal inquiries from the public that request to begin using the Roca Labs Formula for weight loss. […] I review each case individually for medical accuracy. I have been the medical director at Roca Labs for the past year. I was in clinical medical practice for 10 years before moving into pharmaceutical management. I have been involved in the development and ongoing monitoring of the Roca Labs Formula. I work directly with the staff and customers to maintain the highest levels of medical accuracy and safety.

And while it?s unclear whether the feature ever launched, a now-deleted page advertised that the company would soon offer, for thirty-five dollars, online consultations with Dr. Ross to provide ?consultation and medical advice.? Another now-deleted post advertised that for a mere $380, the ?online medical staff will be at your service with detailed answers and advice 24/7? ? an option known as ?be my doctor?, although it?s unclear whether Dr. Ross was employed by Roca at the time.

Of course, all of this disappeared right after Steinbaugh asked Roca about it. In response, Roca (in a long rambling email) said that the removal was not because of his request, but because Roca was “a serious company that acts according to its plans.” Steinbaugh asked about those plans but didn’t get an answer.




As Steinbaugh notes, it’s entirely possible that what Dr. Ross was doing for Roca was legal, but it certainly looks sketchy.

To be sure, the orders of New Jersey and New York explicitly do not require Dr. Ross F. to ?affirmatively advise patients or others of the revocation, suspension or surrender? except in response to an inquiry, nor is it entirely clear whether the order prohibits his association and work with Roca Labs. In fact, his precise relationship with the company is entirely unclear: was he merely there to give the appearance that someone whose name is preceded by ?Dr.? endorses and gives legitimacy to the company?s ?formula?? Or did he have a greater role in the company?s product? If so, did those acts ? whatever they were ? constitute the practice of medicine? And if there are other doctors ? posts on the BBB site by Roca indicate that a doctor reviews qualification forms ? what are their qualifications?

Nevertheless, this is the conduct of a company which says that it is ?completely transparent? and that ?nothing is hidden?: intimidate critics with ominous (and likely baseless) threats of legal action and, when questions are raised, refuse to answer.







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Companies: pissedconsumer, roca labs

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Comments on “'Doctor' Promoting Roca Labs Actually A Pediatrician Who Lost His Medical License For Child Porn”

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29 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Re: Re:

Read the “Order of Revocation from the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners” link. From the link:
“for knowingly offering, through any means, […], which depicts a child engaging in a prohibited sexual act or in the simulation of such an act”
To me that sounds like there was a bit more to it than “a few pictures while at work for some medical reasons”.

Tim Asays:

Dr. F!i@n#e$s%m^i&th: I’d like to apply for the job of pretending to be a real doctor.

Roca: It only pays $10 an hour, because we’re cheap and sleazy.

Dr. F!i@n#e$s%m^i&th: I’ve been having trouble finding anything, so this is perfect.

Roca: You’re hired.

Dr. F!i@n#e$s%m^i&th: Great.

Dr. F!i@n#e$s%m^i&th: Oh, and please don’t Google me.

Roca: Deal, and we don’t think anyone else will either.

New Mexico Marksays:

Interesting trivia

“wearing lab coats emblazoned with the caduceus ? a symbol commonly associated with doctors and medical professionals”

I didn’t see which image they used, but there are two commonly used. The caduceus is two snakes on a pole, sometimes with wings. The Aesculapius is one snake on a pole.

Aesculapius was the god of medicine in Greek mythology. Ironically, Zeus killed Aesculapius for performing a medical miracle (raising Hippolytus from the dead) and accepting gold for it.

Even more ironic is the fact that the the caduceus is the symbol of Mercury, the god of commerce. How sadly appropriate.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caduceus

That Anonymous Cowardsays:

I think it does say something when the only “professional” they could hire is banned from doing exactly what he was doing for them.
Adam didn’t want people to get off of the topic of what Roca was doing and into the ZOMG pedophile doctor area, because it is a distraction… however…
I think it is just a reflection of our society these days.
We have groups who are supposed to make sure that “professionals” do the job and are not doing wrong, but far to often we see these boards doing nothing like what we expect.
Police officers are cleared of shooting unarmed subjects, even after an investigation shows there was wrongdoing, and are forced to be taken back into the position (with back pay) where they abused their authority.
He were have a Dr. who blatantly violated the agreement he signed after wrongdoing, and if not for Roca drawing attention to itself, could have been skating along for a very long time violating his alleged punishment.
Prenda, Bars… nuff said.

Perhaps what we should consider is that it might be time to remove these “oversight” groups, and try again. Far to often the “image” of the profession in the public eye trumps what the rules say should happen. Well if we punish him people might lose faith in the “profession”! The much more realistic response is, they did nothing to “him” the profession isn’t worthy of any trust.
They are doing more harm that good to their image, and putting everyone else in danger all to protect an image that only exists in their minds…
(see also Anti-Terrorism)

Casesays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Redaction

As usual, reading helps a lot. He lost his license to practice and was barred from “providing an opinion as to professional practice or its application?. In other words, you can’t call him as an expert witness in a malpractice suit anymore.

But being an MD and practicing as a physician are very different things, and he was not barred from making any statements in his capacity as an MD — be it on actual science or on weight loss woo

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