I left school at the age of fourteen, and I have never set foot in medical school. However, I am quite handy in a medical emergency. Qantas found this out, as they stated in a letter: ‘Dear Mr Nader. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks for the medical assistance you provided on your flight from Sydney to Auckland. Our cabin crew have the training to handle basic medical situations, but as you know, one of our passengers required expert attention and your professional assistance was greatly appreciated. The time and effort you took to treat our passenger obviously impacted on your flight. As a gesture to reflect our appreciation, I have enclosed a gift voucher. On behalf of Qantas, I would like to sincerely thank you again for your efforts.’
I have several infirm and elderly people in my immediate and extended family. I have completed first aid training, and I have heaps of practical experience in a wide range of areas. As a result, I have picked-up many clues about treating a broad range of medical conditions. So why can’t I open an office in Pitt Street and place ads in the paper, advising people that I can assist them with their medical concerns? I could concoct a range of herbal tablets and lotions from India at three cents per dose, and I could offer a money-back guarantee, and charge around $5000 for a consultation, and give people the benefit of my extensive experience.
Due to the laws, I would be unable to prescribe certain medications. So I could write referral letters to GPs, asking them to prescribe a selection of medications for my clients, which I will then have dispensed by one of my mates who happens to be a pharmacist. Better still, I would combine medications, thereby requiring the pharmacist to ‘compound’ special lotions and tablet, enabling me to deviate from the price list, and charge obscene amounts for basic medicines. If there are no medications for the ailments presented to me, I could search the medical databases, and find a medication whose side-effects are useful. Naturally, I would disregard the reams of warnings about each medication. If anything happens to the patient, I could blame the doctor for prescribing it in the first place.
In Short, why can’t I be a doctor? I know enough to help a lot of people. It would take the load off the medical centres. There are mugs willing to pay.
Well, this scenario is what Sam Cohen and IHRB fall into. Indeed, I was one of the mugs who fell into his clutches. Mr Cohen has positioned himself as a hair loss specialist, while dispensing medications that could be fatal, even though he would argue that the doctors are responsible, because he does not write out the scripts. And we are talking about scripts that should never have been written, if we are to heed the warnings of the pharmaceutical companies and the TGA and the FDA.
In this article, I will examine the medications that Sam recommends as part of his treatment.
First, Sam speaks about magical secret Indian Curries. Until he proves that these exist, I shall maintain that he uses no such herbal remedies. If he does use Indian Curries or such herbs, he would be breaking many laws anyway. On the other hand, if he does not use such herbs, he would have been lying and cheating and conning people. So let’s remove the Indian Curries from the equation. I suspect that he just tells people about them in order to pretend that he has innovated and researched and developed something that no other company can offer. It’s all a trick to grab people’s money. $3,700 in my case.
Let’s scratch the surface of this diabolical business. In his contract, Sam Cohen states that IHRB will ‘Conduct a detailed assessment and/or examination of the current condition of your hair and scalp during your initial visit.’ In my case, he just looked at my head. There was nothing that resembled an assessment or an examination — detailed or otherwise.
A client is asked to answer a ‘Confidential Questionnaire’ which you can download here . These questions hardly contribute to any detailed assessment and/or examination.
What’s the problem? Sam is so eager to grab his money, that he does not stop to think about the laws that he might be breaking, or the danger into which he is placing his customers. He sends them home with herbal products that (I will show in another article) could put some patents at risk. Sam has no idea what other medical conditions people might be suffering. And the clients might not have a clue about how their current medication could react with Sam’s herbal products.
Sam gave me 12 bottles of 5% Minoxidil, compounded by his first pharmacist of Melbourne. All contained ‘retinols’ and some had labels that said they contained Retin-A. Sam and IHRB are not licensed to handle or sell such medications, with or without a prescription.   ‘Minoxidil was originally marketed in a tablet form for the treatment of high blood pressure. One of the side effects of this treatment was unwanted hair growth. This side effect promoted researchers to produce a topical solution for treating hair loss… Local irritation may occur, most often resulting in itching or stinging. Contact allergy to minoxidil or propylene glycol (the main component of the solution) occurs rarely, and results in dermatitis… Unwanted hair growth might occur (hypertrichosis), for example if the solution is dripped onto the forehead…’
If medical photos don’t turn your stomach, you might like to see what the side-effects of minoxidil look like, pertaining to unwanted hair. Click here, but be warned that these photos are rather off-putting .
The information above mentioned propylene glycol. How are we to know if IHRB’s formulation contains propylene glycol? When I was a client, I was never given the information-sheet that now, 17 months later, and only after contacting the pharmacist whose name appears on the bottle, did I receive the information-sheet that the pharmacist told me was supposed to be given to each client. The bottle says to consult an information-sheet. Alas, Sam Cohen substitutes it with his own misleading information-sheet that omits the list of ingredients. Sam also alters the dosage, which he is neither authorised nor qualified to do.
Sadly, I experienced this excess hair loss throughout my 12 months on the program, and yet Sam Cohen would always say that my scalp was getting better. It was getting worse, but his automatically programmed sales pitch would kick into action. Each time he saw me, he would say that he was happy with my progress. He just talked it up, as if I was blind and could not see the rapid deterioration. At the end of the saga, when he refused to give me the refund as per his guarantee, he said that I would have to be on his program for three years. How’s that for scraping the bottom of the barrel! Even after his horrid verbal abuse and threats of physical violence, he kept trying to scare me, saying, ‘So if you stop the program now, what are you going to do? Do you want your hair to get worse? You need to be on this program for three years before you can see any real improvement.’ Yet a year earlier, he had signed a money-back guarantee, saying that I would see a noticeable improvement within twelve months. Wikipedia  says, ‘Ironically, hair loss is a common side effect of minoxidil treatment. Manufacturers note that minoxidil-induced hair loss is a common side effect and describe the process as shedding.’
What happens if treatment is stopped? Here is something that Sam Cohen does not tell you.   ‘If treatment is stopped, the pre-treatment appearance will normally return within 3 or 4 months. If it is stopped after several years of use, the hair that was genetically programmed to be lost during that time will fall out.’ Can you imagine the dramatic effect of genetically programmed hair just falling out? That will be a very dramatic difference to your appearance.
In all his literature and ads, Sam Cohen admonishes his competitors because they hook people for a lifetime of treatment. Indeed, the IHRB contract is guilty of this as well, but Sam’s ads give the impression that his is not a life-long commitment. Yet he never tells us that our hair will fall out when we stop using minoxodil.
Sadly, his sales pitch gives a different impression altogether. Lay people do not understand technical terms. They do not know the first thing about Minoxidil or Retin-A or Finasteride or Propecia or Loniten. All they know is what Sam tells them, starting with the font page of his presentation folder, which states, ‘Re-grow your own natural hair back by blocking the “Genetic Baldness” Gene’.
Sam had told me that his topical solution contained Retin-A. In a note to my doctor, he reiterates this and says that I embarked on his program and that the topical solution ‘consists of 0.025% Retin-A added to 5% Minoxidil’. I later found out that Retin-A is a Schedule-4 product, which cannot be obtained without a doctor’s prescription. And I later realised that IHRB is not licensed to sell minoxidil, because minoxidil is a Schedule-2 product that can only be purchased from pharmacies. I was given his topical solution without a prescription, even though he noted on his ‘program regime’ that the topical solution is ‘prescribed by your doctor’. What he puts in writing is correct, but what he does in practice is completely different. As you can see below, Sam says that the topical solution is prescribed by the doctor. But in my case, I walked in off the street, paid $3700 and was given the medication without a prescription.
Anyway, I was initially told that I would not need finasteride. Eight months into his program, Sam wanted me to go to my doctor to obtain a range of medications including finasteride, as the image below shows in the before and after shots of how he changed his mind as to what I need. I suspect that he does this with everyone. I suspect that he does this to protect himself. He knows that he gave me products without a prescription, and this is his opportunity to secure a prescription in his hand. This is his masterstroke to rectify his initial wrongdoing. His sales tactic would be to secure a sale, without hindrance. Perhaps Sam feels that if potential clients are sent away to obtain a prescription, they might do some research and change their mind. Sam would want the contract signed and the money secured, even if it means working outside the law. Six months later, he can tell clients that he would like to give them a booster, and he sends them to their GP. You see, minoxidil might work in some patients. However, in most, they will need finsasteride. Sam knows this. This is why his contract mentions that they might need such products. However, he takes the money first, and seeks a prescription later. My doctor and my specialist would not comply with Sam’s referral letter. They advised against his medications and his methods. As a result, I did not go on finasteride or Loniten. This put a spanner in the works, even though in an email to me, Sam said that he is confident that his topical solution will be enough. He wrote, ‘I don’t understand why all the fuss? You don’t have to take Loniten &/or Proscar as long as you use my hygiene products, the Herb tablets & apply 3ml of my Topical Solution as instructed.’ Sam wrote this after a series of emails and meetings and phone calls where I pointed out to him that the medications he is suggesting are not approved for hair regrowth. Despite this, Sam said, ‘Loniten is actually Minoxidil & has been approved by the TGA & FDA to help regrowth.’ This is a big fat lie. The TGA and FDA warn against using Loniten for hair regrowth. They warn that hair growth is the unsightly, unwanted, sad side-effect of Loniten which is used for a totally different heart condition!
All that aside, professionals have warned against mixing Minoxodil with Retin-A, as outlined in this article . Dr Robert Bernstein  from New Hair Institute offers a good explanation as to why Retin-A should not be used. He says,   ‘I am generally against the physician-based practice of combining Retin-A with minoxidil. The reason some doctors do this is to get around the law that prevents a doctor, who sells medication in his office, from marking up the price of an individual medication more than 10%. The doctor, however, has the ability to charge anything that he/she wants if he makes his own formulation. If the formulation benefits the patient that is OK, the price might be justified, but in the case of Retin-A/ Minoxidil, it is often a scam that actually harms patients.’
Here it is… point blank… Loniten is not approved for hair growth. It is a serious medical product which has serious side effects. Even if used for it’s intended purpose, Loniten comes with warnings.   ‘Loniten Tablets contain the powerful antihypertensive agent, minoxidil, which may produce serious adverse effects.’ Sam plays it all down by saying that Loniten is merely minoxodil. He misleads people by saying that minoxidil is approved, therefore Loniten is approved. This is dangerous. Minoxidil is approved as a topical (on the skin) solution. Taking a tablet of Loniten cannot be compared with placing drops of liquid on the scalp. Sam wanted me to take Loniten because it is part of his regime. Even his contract lists it as a product that he includes in his list of prescription products that might be required. Experts warn most strongly that Loniten must not be used for hair growth. Loniten is no child’s play. It interacts   with 245 drugs (1189 brand and generic names), including aspirin!
As for side-effects, Loniten has a list as long as your arm, including impotence in men.   ‘Minoxidil may cause serious heart problems, including worsening of chest pain. Minoxidil is usually given with beta-blockers to prevent certain heart side effects and with diuretics to prevent serious fluid build-up.’ The Theraputic Good Administration says,   ‘Indicated as adjunctive therapy in adults with severe refractory hypertension which has failed to respond to extensive multiple therapy. When used in combination with an accompanying diuretic and beta-blocker, minoxidil (LONITEN) has been shown to reverse encephalopathy and retinopathy in severe hypertensives.’
By the way, here is the referral letter  that Sam asked me to present to my doctor. The letter asks for all the medications, and notes how many repeats are required. In effect, Sam is turning my GP into his puppet. The letter is polite and cautious/cunning, but the upshot is that it is instructing a doctor to act for him. No doctor worth his Hippocratic oath would allow a third party like IHRB to control the agenda. Doctors are not there to write out scripts for the likes of Sam Cohen.