Complaint Review: Ontario Migraine Clinic AKA Ah-Shi Acupuncture And Complementary Medicine Inc. - Georgetown Ontario
- Ontario Migraine Clinic AKA Ah-Shi Acupuncture And Complementary Medicine Inc. 83 Mill Street, Ste. 304 Georgetown, Ontario Canada
- Category: Alternative Health
Ontario Migraine Clinic AKA Ah-s**+ Acupuncture And Complementary Medicine Inc. AKA Brendan Cleary, Ph.D., D.A.c. false advertising, gave false expectations Georgetown Ontario
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The correspondence posted below may be a bit disorganized, but I can only be on the computer for limited time because otherwise, its glare can give me a migraine. Today, May 18, 2004, I checked on Brendan Cleary's website and his false advertising is still there, in spite of my reporting it.
Subject: RE: migraine clinic complaint
Date: Wed, 7 Apr 2004 13:35:29 -0400
we will send this to Health Canada...they will deal with Mr. Cleary directly- but they conduct their investigations in private...however, they may need additional information from you
thanks for your help
Sent: Tuesday, April 06, 2004 6:15 PM
To: Dave: #CB - BC
Subject: Re: migraine clinic complaint
Mr. s****. />
Thank you for your attention to this matter. As you
know, false advertising can lead to false hopes and
expectations. False advertising that can be viewed by
people around the world, such as that on Brendan
Cleary's website have the potential to negatively
affect a great number of people's lives.
Please give me the website or e-mail address to the
person responsible for false advertising complaints at
Health Canada, Toronto. Or perhaps you could just
forward the information I have already provided and
have them contact me if further information is
desired. If you wish to speak personally with me
regarding the matter, I can be reached at:
--- s****. /> This matter will be referred to Health Canada for
their assessment under the Food and Drugs Act, as this department is responsible for reviewing false claims relating to medical practices.
I suggest you also contact Health Canada in the Toronto area to provide more information regarding your experience with this clinic.
Dave s****. />
Date: April 5, 2004
Subject: Referred to you by Debra Bechamp of the Western Ontario BBB
To whom it may concern:
I filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau regarding the false advertising done by Brendan Cleary on his website. With Brendan Cleary's response, he did not address this issue. Debra Bechamp, a complaint administrator of the Better Business Bureau referred me to you.
Below, please find a copy of correspondence regarding my original complaint:
Your complaint has been filed. If you have any questions about the complaint, please feel free to contact us at (519) 579-3080 or 1-800-459-8875.
The following mail was sent to email@example.com
THIS DATA HAS BEEN SENT TO THE BBB OF MID-WESTERN ONTARIO AS A RESULT OF YOUR COMPLAINT:
To Whom it may concern:
The above company, commonly known as the Ontario migraine clinic is guilty of false advertising on their website: http://www.migraineclinic.ca
I state this fact from first hand experience. A false guarantee is offered that 100% of patients who walk in with a migraine leave without it. I was treated there for migraines for seven weeks all three days a week Brendan Cleary's clinic was open, beginning with the first week of September, 2003. We have receipts to prove this. Not once did I leave migraine free, and I walked out of the clinic repeatedly with the same migraine I went in with. Also, on the website, it sites a three year study in which over 90 percent of migraine patients are virtually cured (the words "virtually cured" are my impression of what's said and is not said in those exact words on his website. This edit added 5/2004 & not sent in the original e-mail.), with the small percentage remaining obtaining significant help. While at the clinic, I discovered this three year study was not an on-going one, but rather alledgedly was conducted while Mr. Cleary was in Shri Lanka, where he stated he received his training in the method of acupuncture he was using on myself and others in his Georgetown clinic. Since the website did not state the parimeters of the three year study, I had the impression before going that Mr. Cleary was continuing to follow all his migraine patients for three years after finishing treatment to be able to use the percentages of cure or significant relief. I was told that I was to 85% position after 84 treatments and was in good position to have freedom from migraines without the necessity of maintenance follow up visits if I continued the breathing exercises he prescribed faithfully at least three times a day for three months and with minimal usage of medication. I followed Mr. Cleary's instructions regarding minimal usage of medication and breathing exercises during his treatments and for the three month period following to the very best of my ability, hoping for a miracle that never came. I am now getting traditional Chinese acupuncture here in California after almost a total waste of thousands of dollars on going to Ontario Canada to get treatments. My sister was also treated for fibromyalgia because of verbal claims Brendan made. Aside from a brief increase in energy, none of his assertions of improvement for her came true either. She had only a half dozen less treatments than myself. We spent a great deal of money on her as well with practically no results because we hoped Brendan was telling us the truth about her prognosis under his care.
I am on disability in my country and a large portion of my savings were drained on treatments I went to get, partially based on false assertions made on Brendan Cleary's website. I have received far more help from my acupuncturist/herbalist here from her treatments and prescribed herbs. I feel I was cheated. Also, to stack four treatments a day as Mr. Cleary did in my case, since I was from out of town, my current acupuncturist feels would not allow time enough for the body to assimilate the help that might otherwise normally be derived from each treatment.
For the BBB to investigate with a large number of former patients of Mr. Cleary. For BBB to force Mr. Cleary to take off the false assertions made on his website. Of course, I don't expect to get what would be totally fair, which in my opinion would be a complete refund of all payments made to the Ontario Migraine Clinic, less acupuncture needle costs, made for my sister and my treatments. And what would be the honorable thing to do would also be to refund my plane ticket price, as the reason we came was to get major help for me and Mr. Cleary did not deliver. Thank you for your attention.
I want that if other people go to get treatment from Mr. Cleary, they go in with all the truthful facts about prognosis, both in the short term (go in w/a migraine, may go out still having one) and in the long term (percentages based on an old, not ungoing study of success rate). Thanks for listening.
From: "Debra Bechamp
Subject: Re: Ah-s**+ Acupuncture and Complementary Medicine
Date: Fri, 26 Mar 2004 12:14:41 -0500
Dear Ms. :
Your complaint was mailed to the company on March 16th. The process
may take up to 6 weeks to complete. When the Bureau receives a response from the company, we will forward it to you.
Debra Bechamp, Complaint Administrator
BBB of Mid-Western Ontario, Inc.
----- Original Message -----
To: "Debra Bechamp"
Sent: Friday, March 26, 2004 11:04 AM
Subject: Re: Ah-s**+ Acupuncture and Complementary Medicine
Hi Ms. Bechamp!
> Please give an update as to the status of what is going on in this situation (other than I checked the migraineclinic.ca website and it has not been fixed yet). How long does Mr. Cleary have to respond? When should I expect to hear something definite from your agency? Thank you.
> --- Debra Bechamp wrote:
> > Dear Ms. :
Re: Ah-s**+ Acupuncture and Complementary Medicine
Please be advised that your complaint in its entirety will be shared with the company and possibly with appropriate Government and/or Law Enforcement Agencies. We are endeavoring to resolve the matter with the company concerned and will be in touch with you as soon as their reply is received. If in the meantime, if they contact you directly, please advise us.
> > Debra Bechamp, Complaint Administrator
> > BBB of Mid-Western Ontario, Inc.
Here are the words of Brendan Cleary's response forwarded to me by mail from the Better Business Bureau of Western Ontario, Canada.
"Unfortunately in the medical field there is no guarentee. I have administered over 70,000 treatments and have not once guarenteed the outcome. How can I. I have never in 7 years of being in practice used the word cure. Tammy understood this very well, if she didn't she would have not returned after the first treatment. Furthermore, Tammy came to me with 36! problems, one of these was migraine. She was also on 10 medications, had been in a car accident and had 4 operation. She had spoken to patients before coming and fully understood what to expect." In answer to the questions if he believed the adjustment requested is fair and if not why, he stated:
"No" "Tammy fully understood that her headaches were not caused by migraine alone."
Here is the adjustment he stated he would consider offering: "I will continue to treat her or speak to anyone that she is being treated by."
Below are two subsequent e-mails I sent to Debra Bechamp in response to this:
Date: Sat, 03 Apr 2004 13:14:10 -0800
From: "Steve (my dad's e-mail address)
To: "Debra Bechamp"
Hi Ms. Bechamp,
I'm sorry the e-mail I just sent from Yahoo ran together. I seem to be having computer trouble with that e-mail address so I'm trying my dad's (this one).
Below this letter, I included my original complaint. I just received Brendan Cleary's response to my complaint. He did not say he would take off the false advertising on his website, which is my main request, as I did not expect him to do what was fair beyond that. As you can see from my statement below, the migraines that I walked in with I walked out with. My course of treatment were many more treatments than his claim on the website of the approximate complete course number. I believe Mr. Cleary should explain on the website the qualifications in order for a patient to only have that 20-30 treatment approximation, as it certainly could mislead people as is. With these words I copied for you (and please look at the website where it came from too) makes no qualifications of why it often can take longer then that approximate 20-30 treatments. While I was being treated, many other of Mr. Cleary's patients told me the number of their treatments they had so far, and the numbers in many cases were much higher than 20-30. (The 84 treatments I got was not the highest number I heard when I was up there either).
Ms. Bechamp, I hope that you take seriously my complaint of the way he is advertising investigate all the claims made on his website,
Here is a copy of the words posted on the website, with the words that proved for me as blatant false advertising in CAPS:
"The Ontario Migraine Clinic was opened the summer of 1999. The goal of this clinic was to raise awareness and promote the use of complementary methods to treat this debilitating health issue. The treatments consist of a range of modalities that are all natural. The main method of treatment is Acupuncture and the success has been nothing short of amazing. OF THE PATIENTS THAT HAVE A MIGRAINE, THERE HAS BEEN A 100% SUCCESS RATE IN ELIMINATING THE MIGRAINE. THIS HAS HELD TRUE FOR THE TREATMENT OF OVER 2100 CASES! 100% OF THE PATIENTS THAT WERE TREATED FOR MIGRAINE OBTAINE FULL RELIEF. Following the complete course of treatment,(approx.20-30 treatments) there has shown to be over a 90% success rate in eliminating the return of migraine or the symptoms. This is truly the most effective treatment that is available for those who suffer (over 3 million Canadians) from this crippling ailment. At The Ontario Migraine Clinic we feel the treatment utilized is the most effective that is available for the treatment and elimination of present and future migraines. The treatments are structured to eliminate or reduce the suffering and disability associated with attacks (93.4% effective as shown in clinical study). Fortunately, preventive treatment strategies can eliminate present and future migraine attacks for most that suffer . Minimally, the migraine attacks can be reduced in frequency and severity. For those that are in the minority of patients that do not completely eliminate future occurrence of migraines, they will learn how to gain a sense of control over their attacks. This will lead to a better sense of well being and improved quality of life. For his work and the success of The Ontario Migraine Clinic, founder Brendan Cleary Ph.D., D.Ac., was awarded the Star of Asia by The Open University of Complementary Medicine, in December 2000, which is given to the person who most contributes to the field of Complementary Medicine. This is the first time that this award has been given to someone in North America."
Ms. Bechamp, if the claim of 100% success rate of if you walk in with a migraine, you will leave without it is not equivalent to a guarantee, I don't know what is. It has been proven to be a false claim- with just one example -me- it makes the success rate less than 100%. And I know I'm not the only one who has left there with a migraine they went in with. The claim should not be advertised.
As to his non-use of the word "cure": while there, everyone I met was under the impression from him that once you reached a stable 80 percent, the migraines should disappear in over 90 percent of cases, with the other percentage having a reduction to perhaps two migraines per year. He said he couldn't call it a "cure" because he couldn't guarantee the migraines would not return in thirty years, for example. But words not in print are not anything that I think the better business bureau can do anything about. I think they can do something regarding the claims on the website and any other advertising in print that he puts out. More in another e-mail.
Thank you for your attention,
Original Complaint followed
To: Debra Bechamp, Complaint Administrator for BBB of Mid-Western Ontario
I am under the impression from Brendan Cleary's response to my complaint that he would like to make me appear a non-credible witness because he does not want you to focus attention on the false claim on
his website of 100% of people entering into his clinic with a migraine headache leave without it.
Let me make some attempt to explain the circumstances with which, to me, Mr. Cleary appears to be trying to paint me to be a non-credible,
problem-ridden person. Also, let me preface this with telling you I gave him a medical history for me before he started treating me- which he is trying now to use against me. If he felt he could not help me having been given my medical history prior to any treatment he performed, he should not have agreed to treat me & taken my money for the 84 treatments. As I'm sure he knows, there are many factors that can
contribute to migraines: it often is a multi-faceted problem.
Regarding my usage of multiple medications, please note what kind they were and that I took them as infrequently as I was able. Please know that I had multiple migraine headache attacks and much nausea during the seven weeks I was there. I did not go up there to get treated for all my headaches, but to get treated for MIGRAINES.
My diagnosis back in the1990s by (edited name out), neurologist in Arcadia, California, was 60 percent migraine and 40 percent muscular headaches. The diagnosis on receipts I have gotten from (edited dr.'s name out) calls my headaches common intractable migraines.
The migraine headache situation is why I sought treatment at the Ontario Migraine Clinic on recommendation from a friend of my dad's (the friend that afterward wrote a letter to Brendan Cleary regarding his concerns about statements on Mr. Cleary's website).
In the month of December, 2003 alone, well after I came back from being treated by Brendan, I counted 12 separate severe MIGRAINE attacks, which is why I sought treatment from an acupuncturist/herbalist,
(edited name out) in January, 2004. I am still being treated by her & have gotten much more help for my migraines from her.
Because of phone conversations with prior patients and the clinic, not due to the website, as I don't recall any mention of this on there- though mention definitely should be made, I completely quit taking all my prescription narcotic pain medications and anti-depressants, to try to make the treatments more effective. I did this well before I went to the
clinic- and it was not easy, believe me.
I was not told in my conversation with Mr. Cleary prior to making the trip to Canada or even while I was there that going off ALL medications was an imperative requirement.
The medications I recall taking while in Canada were taken as sparingly as I could stand. Part of them, I discontinued taking while there (as per his instructions while I was there). This was very difficult given the pain and nausea I was experiencing. But I was serious about wanting his help, as further evidenced by the time and money I spent in the effort as well as the distance I travelled to get there.
Here is a list of the medications I took during my seven week stay in Canada, the majority of which were over-the-counter:
> a)the ingredients for excedrin migraine (extra strength tylenol with caffeine pills & children chewable aspirins, ) These pills that make up the ingredients of excedrin migraine are over the counter medications. These two types of pills I quit on his encouragement after I had been treated for two-three weeks, if I remember correctly.
> b) benadryl generic (an antihistamine & over the counter medication)
> c) phenergan (prescription anti-nausea): I discontinued this one while up there probably 2 weeks into treatment.
> d) extra-strength tylenol (without other excedrin migraine ingredients)
> e) gravol and its generic- which I purchased up there (anti-nausea)
> f) pepto-bismol chewable tablets (over the counter anti-nausea agent)
> g) emetrol (over the counter anti-nausea syrup)
> h) I guesstimate less than a half dozen times
> during the seven weeks of treatment, an extremely
> mild, low-dosed tranquilizer prescription generic
> drug (name brand of it is known as (edited out)
> i) I may have used vistaril (another prescription anti-nausea medication) once or twice and
> j) imitrex- a prescription migraine abortive (which I also stopped early on into the treatments).
> k)SAM-e- an over the counter dietary supplement
As you can tell from the medication list, I was nauseated a lot.
As to the MINOR operations I have had which Mr.Cleary seems to want to make much of in his response:
> a) Tonsillectomy & removal of adenoids (T&A)- age 5
> b) herniorrhaphy (repair of hernia)- age 7
> c) arthroscopic left knee surgery (kneecap wedged tight due to fall)- (date edited out)
> d) D&C- removal of 6 tiny but troublesome polyps- (date edited out)
As to any medical problems I may have, when Mr. Cleary was more than willing to start treatment and take my money, he assured me in the initial consultation that no matter what the medical problems a person has, his treatment is based upon what he feels is wrong in the pulse. He felt my pulse in both wrists prior to beginning treatments and told me he felt he could help me.
His solution of offering more of his mostly ineffective treatment and likely his willingness to take more money for these treatments given his track record of lying on his website is insulting. And his offer to talk with the lady (name edited out LAc) now having more God-given success than he in treating me would avail no constructive outcome.
What would he talk about, when he insists that he has been sworn to secrecy as to his method of treatment, and kept absolutely no notes during his treatment of me? His taking of no notes is according to his receptionist, Judy, when I called and requested them to mail my medical records to Dr.( neurologist name edited) after (name edited out) requested I get medical records from him. She said all they had was the
financial records (which we already had copies of).
I believe Brendan Cleary has tried to humiliate and intimidate me with his response. I do hope you will be fair and impartial in your investigation. As you can imagine, my impression of Canada has been
impacted by this man. Perhaps you can do something for the protection of others- that is why I lodged the complaint. People who seek treatment at his clinic have a right to truthful advertising about it. I don't want people desperate for help with their migraine headaches to be taken in by false advertising. It needs to be stopped. Can you help?
Because I care,
> PS Would it help if I sent a copy of the letter (name edited), Assistant Manager of radio station WUGN in Midland, Michigan sent to Mr. Cleary prior to me lodging this complaint with your bureau? Mr.Cleary was interviewed on that radio station and a number of people sought treatment as a result. Due to very misleading information on Mr. Cleary's website, (name edited) addressed his concerns in a very constructive way about changes he felt should be made. Due to the website not being corrected, I assumed Mr. Cleary ignored this confrontation. That is why I lodged this complaint.
Here is Debra Bechamp's most recent e-mail to me and the reason I am contacting you:
From: "Debra Bechamp"
Subject: Ah-s**+ Acupuncture
Date: Mon, 5 Apr 2004 15:23:34 -0400
Dear Ms. ,
Thank you for your recent e-mails regarding the above-named company. Due to the company not addressing your concern regarding their advertising, may we suggest that you contact Industry Canada at 1-800-348-5358 or their web-site www.competition.ic.gc.ca.
Debra Bechamp, Complaint Administrator
BBB of Mid-Western Ontario, Inc.
I tried calling your toll free phone number which she provided, but it would not go through, as it must not be set up to be toll free for someone from California, the United States. Please help me to help others. Please take the necessary action to have the false advertising being done by Brendan Cleary stopped. If you would like a copy of the letter I mentioned in an e-mail to Debra that was sent to Mr. Cleary by (name edited), prior to my filing a formal complaint, I would be happy to send you a copy.
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