A former IHRB client tells of his ordeal, saying that he almost suffered an anaphylactic shock at the hands of Sam Cohen who had advised him to take Minoxidil, despite the client telling Sam that the client had suffered terrible reactions. Read his story in his own words, and ponder why and how Sam Cohen is still not behind bars. His story starts after these photos of his reaction to Sam Cohen’s topical solution.
Here is what the former IHRB client wrote:
In July 2006 I had a Consultation with Mr Cohen, a self promoted hair “specialist”, with regards to my hair loss. I had decided to see Mr Cohen after I saw an advertisement of his in the Sun Herald (an advertisement that Mr Cohen would later be sanctioned for by the Complaints Resolution Panel).
When I got to the I.H.R.B premises I filled out a questionnaire and declared to Sam then and there that my scalp was red and itchy in one section due to 3 infected hair follicles that I had and that I had started taking antibiotics to remedy the situation. I asked him if this would interfere with the treatment he had to offer me to which he replied “no”. Mr Cohen examined my scalp. I was told by him that I was going to go bald because I had the common form of male pattern baldness but not to worry because his exclusive “more hair or your money back guaranteed” program would 100% regrow my own hair as it was in its early stages of hair loss. His ‘program’ was exclusive as he would be adding his “special curries” to the topical solution to make it work, as without them the product would not work. He showed me photographic examples of his client’s success stories, including the photos of professional footballers he had as clients and stated further that there was not one person that he couldn’t regrow hair for and that if he couldn’t for me then I would get my money back, so either way it was a win/win scenario. At no time did he ever mention the risks involved or the actual success rate of his ‘program’. He gave me an information pack and I was told to go home and think about it. The pack contained more success stories, advertisements, few facts and certainly no mention of any risks involved. After thinking about it and everything he said to me that day, including that it was safe for me and everyone else to use without adverse effects, I decided to buy his program online when I saw it advertised at a discounted price through The Sun Herald.
I eventually got a copy of the Sun Herald receipt for me to sign which I sent back to them along with the script for the topical minoxidil retinA solution. The Doctor that I went to see was from a list that Sam Cohen had given me and he had pointed this man out. All of the doctors names on the list that he provided are presumably doctors who have unwittingly prescribed the minoxidil for his clients. After doing these two things I thought to myself that is was strange that I had not had to sign some kind of formal agreement. I didn’t know any better, so I left it at that.
To my surprise I had a photograph sent to me post payment, one that was taken at his ‘Institute’ at the time of consultation. It was highlighting the areas where I was to not expect any regrowth. The areas highlighted were the main areas of my hair loss and were areas that Mr Cohen had previously said were guaranteed to experience regrowth as I had got in early. When questioning this I was told by his second in charge “he shouldn’t have told you that”.
I began his program when I finally received his program pack via delivery. The pack contained 12 bottles of minoxidil retinA solution, herbal supplements, cleansers, conditioners and shampoos. There were no health warnings or information present for any of the items contained in the package. Within about a week of using his products I noticed that my feet were itching, but thought nothing of it. After about one month, my body was itching all over and was at times unbearable and could only be relieved by having a cold shower or by sitting under a ceiling fan. It was so bad that I used half a can of bug spray on my carpets as I thought my place had to be ridden with fleas.
Later, I went to see a doctor, not only about the chronic itching but also because my eyes were now swollen, my head was starting to leak with blood and yellow serous fluid, I was having dizzy spells, I was sensitive to the light and I could feel my heart beating oddly. It also felt as though my scalp was burning. The doctor told me to cease taking everything that I was taking, including antibiotics, new shampoos or foods etc… the lot. The facial swelling, bleeding and the leaking of serous fluid soon subsided. The odd heartbeats and the dizziness continued for much longer. The chronic itching of the skin persisted. Given the nature of this experience I was not willing to use any more of the products etc that may or may not have caused my bad reaction. I waited until July to see if the status of my health had improved. I still had itchy legs, feet and body at that time but it was healed enough to make me think that I could try one of the alternatives in the IHRB program.
I was fully aware of the “money back guarantee” I had with Mr Cohen and his ‘institute’. I had not heard from him or his ‘institute’ once since confirming my payment and sending him the signed copy of the purchase receipt from The Sun Heralds website that he requested I sign.
I e-mailed him and informed him of my previous reaction and was willing to continue with his program (not the minoxidil). He telephoned me soon after with regard to this and I raised the “money back guarantee” that was on offer and the possibility of getting my money back. His response was not what I had expected. He told me that he had “never heard” of such a reaction to his ‘program’ and that my ailments could not have come from anything he had given me and that he was under no obligation to return my money, telling me to “look at the contract”(contract?). Furthermore, he said that he wanted more “MONEY” from me as the topical solutions that I was in possession of would now be expired and that I would need to buy new ones. I told him that I was pretty sure that this was not the case which I confirmed to him. He asked me to return the bottles to him which was in a couple of months going to be out of date. I did so, keeping one for myself to use.
Mr Cohen, the “Hair Specialist”, told me it was safe to continue with his program and that I should do so. I asked him to email me his instructions which he did. This email did not include a mention of consulting with a doctor first. I felt reassured enough to continue with the solution, after all, he was the “Specialist”. I also felt pressured by him as he had made out that if I didn’t let him continue working with me I certainly wouldn’t have a hope of seeing any favours from him in the way of discounted prices or a refund.
Within hours of re-applying his solution, I was experiencing a reaction that was multiple times worse than the original reaction. My face ballooned up and my eyes closed over due to the swelling. My skin became extremely irritated and my scalp was burning with pain. Yellow serum freely ran from my head for the next 48 hours at least. My scalp turned red raw and ultra sensitive, so much so that I could feel every hair follicle that moved, causing me a lot of pain and discomfort. I had to bandage my head to collect the serous fluid and minimize hair movement. I went to the doctors and was given medication to try and reverse the reaction and to help me to sleep and cope with the pain. I spent the next few days in a drowsy medicated state. After this, I had to wash my hair as it hadn’t been washed since the time of applying the solution and it was beginning to smell. My scalp and hair was crusty from the dried out serous fluid residue and scar tissue. The washing proved to be a very painful experience also.
I sent an e-mail to Mr Cohen with my photos attached stating that I only applied two drops of his solution and to show him the results. He rang me the next day and I was half expecting an apology, an immediate refund and an offer of further assistance. He said that he had never seen such a reaction and put the blame onto me saying that I “obviously have a problem”. He re-iterated once more that I could not have a refund as I had not yet tried his alternative treatments and to get back to him when I was better. Unbelievable!
I contacted him again stating that things were not going well for me and that I had had to see a doctor again for ongoing health problems that directly related to my reaction to the product in his program, as explained to me by the doctor. I also stated that the doctor had told me that it would take quite some time to settle down and that I did not want to try any alternative treatments. He e-mailed a reply the following day. It used my own words to suit his meanings, had no offers of assistance of any kind, no offer of a refund and he seemed to distance himself from the situation.
At this time I decided to give myself more time to heal, but within a week my ailments had intensified. I sent him a further e-mail with regard to this which I did not get a response to. I sent him two additional e-mails that also went unanswered. I left phone messages with his receptionist to get him to call me back. He didn’t. I then rang another time and asked to speak with the second person in charge. She assured me that he would be calling me back. He finally did. He again said that I will not get a refund unless I continued with his program alternatives and to “look at the contract”. He mentioned here that he had Loniten tablets to give me which in my case were better for me because taking the tablets would mean that the solution bypasses the skin and I would therefore avoid having another reaction from the skin. I declined. He then tried to get me to use another solution that he had which he said would take two years for me to regrow my hair and that this one is a “non-medical” solution, whatever that means. I remained sceptical and wary and asked him for the list of ingredients in this solution. He did not want to give them to me and let me know what it was. I said that I need to know what was in it so that I can clear it with a Doctor (He reluctantly sent me the details of this solution, none of which were an approved remedy for male pattern baldness.) I also asked him what “contract” was he talking about as I did not know what he was referring to. He went quiet. He then told me that he would send me it. End of conversation.
The only thing that he sent me was the Sun Heralds signed receipt of purchase and nothing else. I called his “institute” and requested that the receptionist send me a “contract that I had signed”. She too sent me just the signed Sun Herald receipt of purchase. I rang them again and spoke to another girl working there and again requested a copy of the contracts signed. I was again sent the signed Sun Herald receipt of purchase. I was however also sent an unsigned copy of a customer contract, a piece of paper that I had not seen before and certainly had no recollection of ever signing. The fact that I, in three attempts of trying, had not seen my signature on any formal piece of paper was proof to me that I had never signed the very document that he was using as an excuse to not return my money.
The next ten month period I spent trying to heal myself by seeking the aid of actual specialists and doctors to try and rectify my associated and ongoing health concerns. I was diagnosed as having ‘urticaria’, a skin disorder that can come about from an allergic reaction to a drug. I also had a diagnosis for the actual reason for my hair loss, “folliculitis decalvans”, not the common form of hair loss Mr Cohen said that I had. I was also told by one GP that I was lucky that I did not go into “anaphylactic shock”.
Given that Mr Cohens last e-mail to me was to let him know when everything heals and given that I had allowed ten months for this to occur, without success, I e-mailed him again and informed him that my health had not improved, that I still had not seen a copy of a signed formal agreement sent to me and that I wanted an immediate refund of my money or I would be taking things further.
His condescending reply came. Magically, a signed copy of an agreement appeared. An agreement where the date is incorrect, there is no witness signature, I have not written my own name and I do not recognise the client signature as being my own. I do not remember ever seeing or signing a contract. I responded to this promptly via e-mail addressing what he had said and summarising my case to him in full. I asked for a reply and waited. I didn’t get one. I sent him two reminders and finally got a “final correspondence” from him. That e-mail was an insult to me. It did not address any of my points in previous e-mails. He more or less stated that I was the only person to blame for my circumstance without detailing anything to back that up, nothing other than his own limited opinion. He absolved himself from any kind of liability. His “gesture of goodwill”, shampoo etc, was a slap in the face. As if I would want to have any more of his products! Unfortunately for him, he disclosed here that I had told him of a pre-existing condition, a condition that a hair “specialist” (as he advertises himself) should have attributed to the type of hair loss that I have. A condition, I have been told, one should never use his topical solution on.
I responded to Mr Cohens “final correspondence”, addressed the ridiculous points of view that he had made, informed him that this would be my last correspondence with him and gave him until the end of the week to refund me my money or I would be taking things further. I never heard from Mr Cohen again.
The program sold to me was not suitable for me at all. Sam Cohen the “Hair Specialist” misdiagnosed the form of hair loss that I had and in so doing put my health at serious risk with his hair loss ‘program’ that he “guaranteed” would regrow my hair. I did not regrow any hair. In fact my scalp condition became worse than it was and I became quite ill. I subsequently learned from an accredited hair loss practitioner, that his ‘program’ was totally unsuitable for me given my condition and it was akin to “putting fuel onto a fire”. It is also contra-indicated.
I contacted the compounding pharmacist that made the solution. He said that he provided the warnings/patient information on the topical solution to Mr Cohen to forward on to me. This is something that Sam Cohen never did. He deliberately removed this information. To include the information would prove him to be the liar that he is because he says all along that he has “never heard” of anyone having a reaction to it.
I was never made aware of any qualifications that Sam does or does not have. I do not believe that Sam Cohen is a hair ‘specialist’. He does however specialise in taking advantage of people with his scam of a business.
The lies this man told me, together with his careless treatment towards me and his other disgruntled clients demonstrate that he wilfully and recklessly endangers the health of his clients with a blatant disregard for their health and well being and must be completely stopped before he kills someone. It may already be too late for that. I could have died if I had ingested the Loniten tablets that he offered me as the medical patch testing that I have had done proves that I am indeed allergic to minoxidil, a known side affect.
Mr Cohen knows full well what minoxidil is and what the side effects and associated dangers are. Being a self advertised “Hair Specialist” with over 35 years experience it is reasonable for his clients to assume that he does in fact know what he is talking about. He clearly doesn’t and should not be giving out information and instructions that interfere with the relationship between a patient and their prescribing doctor. He has no qualifications or authority to do so.
I believe that Mr Cohen and his “Institute for Hair Regrowth and Beauty” should be shut down for good and that any like minded third party hair clinics out there that out source for doctors scripts in a bid to indemnify them-selves of any liability should be stopped from doing so by this practice being made illegal. Peoples’ lives are at risk.
Con men are everywhere and they will always prey on people who have the good nature to put faith into people and take them at their word. The hair regrowth industry is FULL of con men! Unfortunately this whole experience will result in me never again putting my faith and trust into people whom I don’t know. The world is a lesser place with shonky business operators whose bottom line is always to make money whatever the cost. It is even more frustrating when no one speaks out or when the system continues to allow these shonks to operate. So good on everyone who speaks out against the wrong-doers in the world!
Continue to fight the good fight and don’t let those who take advantage of you get you down. They are frankly not worth that much of your time. Bad Karma will return to them soon enough.
My advice to those I know based on my own experience is to not go to any of these hair loss companies. They are essentially stores run by salespeople who don’t know a great deal more than the sales pitch that they use. Talk to your GP about the products on the market that can help you with your hair loss (a lot of GPs are ignorant on hair loss facts too! Keep looking until you find a good GP). Do not be referred to the companies that you see on TV who spend such huge amounts of money on advertising. You will pay for this through their ridiculously inflated costs. Alternatively, going to the local chemist will get you the same products and results that these companies offer and for only a fraction of the price!