HCCC drops bomb on curries

HCCC drops bomb on curries

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The myth has been debunked! The Health Care Complaints Commission has made it clear that, contrary to Mr Cohen’s misleading claims, it never confirmed the existence of any curries or herbal extracts in IHRB’s topical solutions. For five months, my lawyers and I had been liaising with the Commission, to delve into Sam Cohen’s insistence that HCCC supposedly knows all about his phantom curries. Mr Cohen had been abusing and misrepresenting HCCC’s report into his illegal activities. Mr Cohen had focussed on ‘Paragraph 6.20’ of the damning report which found him guilty of endangering the health and safety of his clients. Paragraph 6.20 was merely repeating what Mr Cohen had told investigators — that, according to him, he adds his supposedly special secret extracts to his topical solutions. He calls them his ‘world leading… state of the art… exclusive secret natural extracts’.

By isolating Paragraph 6.20, and submitting it to unsuspecting clients and CTTT Members and CTTT’s Registrar, Mr Cohen had been misleading and deceiving people about the report and its meaning. The paragraph was ambiguous to those who had not read HCCC’s complete report in which the Commissioner had noted that Mr Cohen was ‘not a reliable witness’ and that Mr Cohen’s evidence was ‘self-serving and unreliable’. Whenever anyone asks Mr Cohen to prove the existence of his ‘Indian Curries’ and secret herbal extracts, Mr Cohen points to Paragraph 6.20 and says that HCCC had confirmed their existence. What that paragraph does say is that IF Mr Cohen had indeed added anything, as he claims, then he was doing it outside of the doctor’s prescription. His admission amounts to self-incrimination. That Paragraph was saying that Mr Cohen was tampering with medications by going beyond what the prescription had prescribed!

THE DEVASTATING BOMBSHELL

After bringing Mr Cohen’s deceptive conduct to the Commissioner’s notice, I received a letter signed by the Commissioner, Mr Kieran Pehm, dated 1 March 2012. The letter (extract below) says, ‘…I can confirm that during its investigation the Commission did not conduct tests of the solutions supplied by Mr Sam Cohen and IHRB.’

HOW THE FUSE WAS LIT

My lawyers had sent a letter to Mr Ian Thurgood, the Director of Complaints, at HCCC, asking for clarification about the Paragraph. Below you will see part of the first page of the letter:

Additional material was sent to HCCC, including a large folder containing evidence of how Mr Cohen was misleading and deceiving people and the Authorities about his useless extracts, by abusing and misrepresenting the HCCC Statement of Decision. In part, the letter to HCCC said:

This letter aims to persuade HCCC to answer vital questions about Paragraph 6.20 of the Statement of Decision regarding IHRB.

WHY ARE THE QUESTIONS IMPORTANT?

IHRB is abusing the HCCC Statement of Decision. Paragraph 6.20 of that Decision is turbo-boosting the alleged fraud. HCCC had performed admirably (despite Mr Cohen lying to your Investigators (we have electronic surveillance to prove it)). Sadly, all that excellent work is being tarnished because IHRB is now quoting Paragraph 6.20 in such a way, as to accelerate the alleged lies and to deceive the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT), thereby denying justice to aggrieved IHRB clients.

Paragraph 6.20 is IHRB’s prize. It is a priceless gift that invigorates the alleged scam.

By way of example, consider US stockbroker Mr Bernard Madoff who is now serving a 150-year prison sentence. The Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) investigated alleged fraud, yet failed to spot the irregularities. That incompetent investigation gave Mr Madoff a golden, priceless piece of paper that he showed to clients, saying that the SEC had found him to be compliant. That golden piece of paper turbo-boosted the fraud, which raised Madoff’s profile and attracted US$65 billion in investments. Victims said that they were convinced that Madoff was an honest man, because the SEC found him to be compliant.

In a similar way, Paragraph 6.20 is IHRB’s golden, priceless paragraph that turbo-boosts the alleged fraud…

Although HCCC is primarily concerned with health matters, and although fraud is a commercial (Fair Trading) matter, may I point to HCCC’s publication called, ‘Code of Conduct for unregistered health practitioners’ which points to certain requirements that are commercial in nature. IHRB disregards several Codes, which I have outlined in Appendix 6. Briefly, IHRB’s claims about its products cannot be substantiated. For this reason, IHRB is using Paragraph 6.20 to trick clients and CTTT. In fact, the Complaints Resolution Panel gave IHRB every opportunity to verify its claims, yet IHRB was unable to verify or substantiate a single claim. As a result, on 16 November 2011, the Panel found IHRB in breach of 12 Sections. The Panel found IHRB’s claims to be, ‘unlawful, misleading, and unverified’. So much so, that the Panel asked IHRB to publish retractions. Thus far, IHRB has refused to comply with the Sanctions. Similar Sanctions in 2008 were ignored by IHRB for 22 months.

HOW IHRB IS ABUSING PARAGRAPH 6.20

Paragraph 6.20 states (my emphasis added):

‘The pharmacist compounds the topical solution to the requirements of Mr Cohen which in the case of minoxidil is between 5% and 17% concentration depending on the order, with retin A added. These “Topical Solutions” are compounded according to IHRB specifications and the solution includes a number of other herb extracts which are added. These ingredients are over and above what has been written on the doctor’s prescription.’

Paragraph 6.20 needs urgent clarification, as I shall outline later in this letter. First, please note that IHRB’s Managing Director Mr Sam Cohen, who is unable to verify a single claim, has been telling his clients and CTTT (to disadvantage his victims) that his secret extracts do exist, and he backs-up his claims by saying that HCCC has confirmed their existence. When asked about the ingredients (which he is required by law to list on his bottles), Mr Cohen says that he does not wish to divulge the ingredients, but says that HCCC has been furnished with the list of ingredients.

The following are examples of how Mr Cohen makes these claims, which disadvantage victims who allege that Mr Cohen has deceived them about the topical solution for which Mr Cohen charges more than ten-times the market-price (after the initial sign-on fee listed at $4,900). For example, a Minoxidil product that retails at under $20, is sold by IHRB at $220. Another Minoxidil product that retails at $70, is sold by IHRB at $900, claiming that the high prices relate to the inclusion of IHRB’s secret extracts. I assert that Mr Cohen is breaching Codes 10, 11, & 12 of the ‘Code of Conduct for unregistered health practitioners’.

Appendix 9 — In an email dated 1 November 2011, Mr Cohen said that his ingredients are known to HCCC, and that ‘The HCCC has a copy of the break up… and [HCCC] have acknowledged this in their “[Prohibition] order”.’

Appendix 10 — In a letter to the Registrar at CTTT, Mr Cohen disputes his client’s (Mr Rxxx) allegations that the extracts do not exist. Mr Cohen quotes Paragraph 6.20, using it as proof that HCCC has acknowledged the existence of the secret extracts.

Appendix 11 — In a letter from Mr Cohen to me, presumably written so that Mr Cohen can send a copy to a Dr Axxx, Mr Cohen defends the existence of his secret extracts by saying that, ‘Even the HCCC has stated this in their final order…’.

Appendix 12 — In an email dated 24 October 2011, Mr Cohen says that his Topical Solution contains his natural extracts which, ‘Even The HCCC acknowledged this…’ Mr Cohen then says, ‘extract attached’ which referred to a PDF attachment showing Paragraph 6.20 which Mr Cohen was furnishing as proof that HCCC has confirmed the existence of his secret extracts.

Appendix 13 — In an email of 31 Oct 2011 to Mr Jxxx, Mr Cohen refers to agreements (signed by his pharmacists Messrs Cxxx and Fxxx) which pertain to, ‘…adding my secret additives and acknowledged by the HCCC…’ One of those manufacturing agreements is included as Appendix 14. When the agreement was shown to the pharmacist Mr Cxxx, he responded saying that he regretfully signed that agreement prior to receiving or inspecting the secret extracts. When Mr Cxxx finally received the secret extracts, he said that he became suspicious and he never used them in any of his topical solutions. In response, Mr Cohen accused Mr Cxxx of lying. A similar response was received from Mr Fxxx, saying that he only ever added Vitamin-A and a grape-seed extract to Minoxidil for a period of only one month, saying that the two ingredients provided no therapeutic effect for hair growth, and that the grape-seek extract contained no active ingredients, and which caused the Minoxidil to crystallise and become useless. Mr Fxxx has confirmed that none of the ingredients was exclusive; saying they cost no more than one or two dollars.

Appendix 17 — After being shown proof that Messrs Cxxx and Fxxx claimed not to have used or been aware of the physical existence of any secret/exclusive extracts, Mr Cohen wrote, ‘They are lying if they deny the addition of my additives. I have it in writing and the HCCC has also acknowledged this.’

Appendix 18 — In a case against his client at CTTT, Mr Cohen submitted a letter to the Registrar, claiming that his topical solution is unique, and to which he adds his ‘secret formula or natural extracts…’ He then says, ‘To maintain its secrecy, I will show agreements from my past two chemists to the presiding member or judge. Even the HCCC’s.’ Yet, a year prior, when I summonsed IHRB to provide proof of the existence of the secret extracts for my CTTT case that extended to 383 days, Mr Cohen refused to return the summons.

It is important to clarify Paragraph 6.20 about natural extracts being added. Here are the kinds of questions that surface:

A) The Statement of Decision was written after the investigation, following a police raid. In relation to the bottles that were seized, were any of those bottles sent out for independent testing by an external Accredited laboratory? If independent tests were not conducted by HCCC, then on what basis does HCCC say that the extracts were added? Merely on the say-so of Mr Cohen? Or was the Investigator saying that he later learned that IHRB does have some topical solution which it claims to be exclusive and secret? Was the Investigator shown any scientific reports or clinical trials that prove that these extracts are owned by IHRB, and that they contain active ingredients that produce proven therapeutic results in terms of regrowing hair? (Clients who attest to successful hair regrowth would have used commercially-available medications such as Minoxidil, Finasteride, Loniten, and Retin-A (all found during the police raid)). Also, how would supposed secret extracts find their way inside the bottles given that no doctor ever listed them in a prescription? Earlier bottles from [the first] Pharmacy were tamper-proof, and Mr Cxxx said that he never added any extracts (Appendix 15), so how could anything have entered the bottles? Yet, Mr Cohen is telling CTTT that the ingredients were included, and he accuses the pharmacists of lying, and he backs-up his claims by saying that HCCC has confirmed the existence of these extracts inside his bottles. On what basis is HCCC confirming the existence of secret natural extracts inside the bottles that were seized? Keep in mind that certain old stocks still exists to test these claims in a court.

B) Pharmacist Mr Fxxx (Appendix 16) said that he only added the extracts (which he says had no therapeutic effect and no active ingredients, and which were not exclusive to Mr Cohen) for one month in March 2010. Yet the police raid took place 22 September 2010. It is likely that any bottles tested by HCCC would have been compounded after April 2010. The pharmacist is denying adding the (non-exclusive and useless) extracts beyond March 2010, so what could have been in those bottles? Even the third pharmacist (Elias Pharmacy) only points to useless Vitamins being added (Appendix 20). If indeed HCCC had verified the existence of herbal or natural extracts in any of the tested bottles, it is incumbent upon HCCC to please clarify what was found inside the bottles. This would be no secret, because labelling laws require a therapeutic product to list the ingredients. Mr Cohen has been breaking the law by not listing the ingredients. If HCCC’s independent laboratory tests revealed the inclusion of additional extracts, it would not be a breach of confidence for HCCC to outline the ingredients, given that IHRB is admitting to the extracts, and TGA laws require the labels on therapeutic products to include the ingredients. If HCCC is satisfied that the extracts were exclusive and effective, then perhaps it can now say so, even without divulging any corporate secrets. If HCCC does not specify the ingredients, IHRB will continue to deceive its clients because Mr Cohen and HCCC both refer to ‘herb extracts’ in a general nondescript sense, which, given how Mr Cohen has been advertising that they are the best in the world (Appendix 7), tends to attribute almost magical world-exclusive powers to these supposed herbs that are referenced alongside client testimonials and photos that were found to be deceptive, and found by the Complaints Resolution Panel to be unlawful, misleading, and unverified (despite a lengthy submission by IHRB via its lawyer to argue against the Sanctions (Appendix 8)).

C) Furthermore, even if the ingredients were discovered by HCCC, it would need to inform the public about whether or not HCCC is acknowledging that the extracts are in fact the intellectual property of IHRB, because Paragraph 6.20 currently gives the impression that the added extracts do belong to IHRB.

D) Paragraph 6.20 also says, ‘The pharmacist compounds the topical solution to the requirements of Mr Cohen…’ Has this been verified? Mr Cxxx who served IHRB for approximately nine years, has denied ever doing anything outside of the doctor’s prescription. A 50-page report (available upon request) that accuses Mr Cxxx of malpractice was sent to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). AHPRA investigated Mr Cxxx and found that he had not breached any of the Codes. I then asked the CEO of AHPRA to take a second look at the report. The CEO asked his Special Counsel to investigate and found that despite the dozens of accusations and the 50-page report, Mr Cxxx was not in breach. Yet, for HCCC to stand by Paragraph 6.20, an average reader could presume that a pharmacist like Mr Cxxx was in fact compounding illegally. Has HCCC confirmed that Mr Cxxx had compounded illegally? This is significant because Mr Rxxx and Mr Jxxx and I (along with the other complainants) straddle the period when our bottles were supplied via Mr Cxxx. Mr Cohen already used Paragraph 6.20 against Mr Rxxx at CTTT. Mr Jxxx will lodge a complaint with CTTT in January 2012, and he would no doubt have to argue against Mr Cohen’s use of Paragraph 6.20 which I imagine would be seen as strong evidence in favour of Mr Cohen, because HCCC holds a certain amount of credibility in these matters.

E) Did HCCC verify that Mr Cxxx and/or Mr Fxxx were ignoring the doctor’s prescription and taking instructions from Sam Cohen, who was never licensed to direct any of the medications? Has HCCC confirmed that Mr Fxxx added the secret extracts for more than one month? Most of the products that contained the grape-seed extract had crystallised, rendering them useless and were returned by clients. So, on what basis can HCCC confirm that, in the entire nine-year period, IHRB had been adding the extracts? Mr Fxxx was only new on the scene. Without a statement from Mr Cxxx, how can HCCC make a sweeping statement which readers could assume related to all of IHRB’s business period? Mr Jxxx, the 23-year-old former IHRB client who is soon to lodge a CTTT complaint alleging being scammed out of $9,900, was a client during the days when IHRB was still using the services of Mr Cxxx. We note from evidence (available upon request) that Mr Jxxx had a prescription for ONE bottle of Minoxidil with Retin-A, yet Mr Jxxx walked out of Mr Cohen’s office carrying 12 bottles of Schedule-4 medication, and we discovered that six months later, the prescription was illegally altered by someone (presumably Mr Cohen), and 12 bottles were dispensed and sent to IHRB (presumably the patient labels were peeled and the bottles sold illegally to another unsuspecting client (in the same way I was illegally sold such bottles for $3,700 without a prescription). In presenting his case at CTTT, Mr Jxxx will no doubt need to argue against Paragraph 6.20 that, to an average reader, does not make it clear that HCCC is speaking about certain bottles from a narrow period of time. A sweeping statement by HCCC puts the victim at a disadvantage, and this could lead to injustice, as I have already seen take place during other hearings!

F) Also we read in Paragraph 6.20 that, ‘These ingredients are over and above what has been written on the doctor’s prescription.’ Is HCCC saying that the pharmacists broke the law and added active ingredients that were over-and-above the doctor’s requirements? Or is HCCC saying that IHRB broke the law and tampered with medications? Paragraph 6.20 is most unclear and is very problematic.

I suspect that Paragraph 6.20 was merely paraphrasing what Mr Cohen had told investigators. I do not believe that it was categorically describing what the investigators had confirmed to be true. I think that Mr Cohen was merely giving his version of events, and that the paragraph was simply outlining the scenario that Mr Cohen had provided amidst a complex investigation that uncovered wide-ranging irregularities.

In a recent email (Appendix 12) Mr Cohen adds another complication by telling his client that he was only using Activance (a product available from most hairdressers). The manufacturer of Activance is Mr Cxxx who told me that Activance is an unstable product (which does not re-grow hair, anyway), meaning that anything added to it would most probably cause more harm than good, because of the ways in which the chemicals react. Mr Cxxx told me that in the case of Minoxidil, anyone adding herbs and extracts could well be rendering the Minoxidil ineffective (as Mr Fxxx found out (Appendix 16) saying, ‘I had concerns about their effect on the solubility and stability [crystallisation] of the product.’). So Paragraph 6.20 is saying that herb extracts were added, without noting what this would have meant in chemical/pharmacological terms; and if such additions would have resulted in ineffective products. For these reasons, Paragraph 6.20, when presented to a lay-person such as a Tribunal Member, omits to highlight the many possible issues surrounding the chemical consequences of adding herb extracts to Minoxidil or Activance. (During the police raid, investigators might have noticed a box in IHRB’s storeroom which was labelled ‘Rhodanide’. The main ingredient of Activance is Rhodanide. Mr Cohen had told Mr Jxxx that his monthly fee of $220 was for Minoxidil. When Mr Jxxx queried how this was possible in view of the Prohibition Orders, Mr Cohen changed his story and claimed to have been selling Activance.)

WHAT ARE WE TOLD ABOUT THE SECRET EXTRACTS?

Appendix 19 — When Mr Jxxx advised Mr Cohen that he was suffering from chronic fatigue and he needed to know the ingredients for health reasons, Mr Cohen wrote, ‘As a special case I can inform you that the solution basically contains 5% Minoxidil + 0.025% Vitamin.A + 5% Vitamin B in a Propylene Glycol and Alcohol base.’ Vitamins A and B would not comprise intellectual property. They would hardly add two dollars to any bottle. These have not been known to re-grow hair. Here Mr Cohen is clearly outlining the ingredients and, by his own admission, they do not include anything that can be called a natural extract in the ways that he elsewhere advertises.

Appendix 20 — Mr Cohen has said different things at different times, alleging Vitamin E, along with ‘12 to 13’ additional herbal extracts. When a former IHRB client (Mr Lxxx) wrote to Mr Cohen’s current pharmacist (Elias Pharmacy) asking about the added extras, Mr Elias Juanas replied, ‘The formula also contains Vit B5 5% and Vit A 0.025%’. Using a (dubious) glowing client-testimonial dated 12 August 2011 (Appendix 21), which Mr Cohen sent to Mr Jxxx 31 October 2011, we see that Mr Cohen is keen for people to know that he has, ‘…secret 12 natural extracts…’. The inconsistencies cause many issues. A hair regrowth formula is a therapeutic product which must list the ingredients, yet Mr Cohen never lists them, because I assert that no effective ingredients exist.

DESIRED RESPONSE FROM HCCC

In view of how Mr Cohen and IHRB are abusing Paragraph 6.20, I plead with HCCC to please clarify its position, because a Mr Jxxx has been trying to raise his concerns with IHRB for six months, and he has been lied to. He is on a pension and can hardly afford the legal expenses thus far incurred. A CTTT hearing will be sought in January 2012. It is anticipated that at the hearing, Mr Cohen will reference Paragraph 6.20. Mr Cxxx has agreed to fly from Melbourne to act as a witness, stating that he never compounded any of Mr Cohen’s supposed natural extracts. We need to iron-out any contradictions before the hearing.

Mr Jxxx is 23 years old. He suffers from chronic fatigue. He says that Mr Cohen always told him that there are no side-effects to his topical solutions. Mr Jxxx alleges to have been scammed out of $9,900. Personally, I have spent two years monitoring Mr Cohen, and from my perspective, I believe that Mr Jxxx does have a valid claim. Having attended several CTTT hearings during which former clients argue helplessly against Mr Cohen’s brazen lies and fabricated evidence, I anticipate that Mr Cohen will lie, fabricate evidence, and point to Paragraph 6.20 while accusing the pharmacists of lying. With due respect, I have observed Tribunal Members somewhat unable to pierce through Mr Cohen’s barrage of lies, because they have not cottoned-on to his modus operandi, and each case is heard by a different Member, depriving the Applicant of serious probing.

THE QUESTIONS TO HCCC ARE SIMPLE

At the time that the Statement of Determination was published on 22 February 2011, had HCCC conducted independent laboratory tests to prove that the extracts do exist inside the bottles that were seized? Were herb extracts found inside those bottles at that time? If lab results had discovered the extracts, were they anything other than Vitamins A, B, or E and perhaps a hair dye or grape-seed extracts — all of which have never been proved to re-grow hair? Does HCCC confirm that the extracts, whatever they were, are clinically proven to regrow hair? Please confine your response to products tested within the timeframe from the date of the raid to the 22nd of February 2011. And please do not forget that we are NOT talking about the herbal Saw Palmetto tablets that were separate tablets (which Mr Cxxx and the ‘New England Journal of Medicine’ both acknowledge have been shown to be ineffective in terms of hair regrowth). HCCC must confine its response to the topical liquid solutions. Even so, there were two types of topical solutions. One that contained Minoxidil, and another non-medical version which I allege was used by IHRB as part of the scam to obfuscate the client-contract. That is another long story which I would be happy to explain. However, if herbs were found, were they in the non-medical version topical solution or in the Minoxidil version? This is a significant difference which I would be happy to explain upon request.

CONCLUSION

This letter is simply trying to clarify some issues that cause a lot of aggravation to victims with whom I speak almost on a daily basis. From my experience, IHRB is still abusing clients. Mr Cohen is still fabricating evidence and is denying his clients justice. I can put you in touch with recent victims if you require evidence of the currency and recency of these issues.

The average consumer has no power to compel Mr Cohen to answer questions. When matters go to CTTT, most Applicants (with whom I can put you in touch, if you wish to hear their sad stories) feel bamboozled and deceived. The forthcoming case involving 23-year-old Mr Jxxx has taken over six months of exhausting work because every email that Mr Jxxx sends to Mr Cohen, is returned with different stories and more lies which send us on wild chases. The current sets of lies (which I have not even alluded to in this document) are evident, stunning, and outrageous. I have spared you those stories so as to keep this letter as short as possible.

In pleading with you to clarify this situation, I am neither trying to harm Mr Cohen nor abuse your valuable time. I have no vendetta against Mr Cohen. This is a practical, urgent request that has arisen due to Mr Cohen unjustly and unfairly confusing Tribunal Members at CTTT, and denying his victims justice.

Mr Jxxx’s forthcoming case will hinge on the question of whether or not the secret extracts did exist, and if they were effective in regrowing hair.

…Given how IHRB is abusing Paragraph 6.20 and how I have seen Mr Cohen use that Paragraph to his advantage in hearings at CTTT, it falls on you to please consider that your great work a HCCC is being manipulated. HCCC has unintentionally handed Mr Cohen a golden opportunity to accelerate this alleged scam. (Interestingly, apart from the dollar amounts, there are striking similarities between the Madoff case and the IHRB case, in terms of the difficulties in trying to raise the alarm, and the psychology behind the manipulation, and the reasons why few victims care to come forward and admit to having been scammed. In the case of hair-loss, many victims who contact me are too embarrassed to reveal to their spouse or the public that they were seeking treatment. As a result, most dare not complain — making it difficult for the precious few who are brave enough to ring the alarm bells.)

I would be happy to speak with you at any time…

Yours faithfully


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