"The FTC lawyers said I couldn't criticize childhood vaccinations. They said I (we) terrify parents with statements about chiropractic, childhood vaccinations and natural health care."--Tedd Koren DC
THE FTC - FINALLY WE CAN TELL YOU
"Please hold for Mr. Turner." Jim Turner is our attorney who has been
defending us against the FTC. He's in Washington, DC. I asked Beth to get
on the other line. We had been waiting for final word from the FTC and the
past few weeks were most intense. We were told a "draft" had been written
by the government lawyers, but they did not tell us what it said or when
exactly it would go out. Thumbs up or thumbs down?
Would they continue their investigation and go forward to further attack
patient communications? Would they end it? As we waited my stomach began to
go into the all too-familiar knots I'd feel whenever I'd get calls like
this. Beth started getting nervous too. I hadn't told her but the other day
I learned that the new head of the FTC has started a big attack on
"unethical health fraud" (often code words for "non-medical healers"). Were
we in for years of further fighting?
"Hello Jim?" Suddenly I heard a chorus of voices. The four attorneys at
Swankin and Turner, our law firm, were all on a conference call with us.
Everyone starting talking at once. "Its over," they shouted. "The
government has officially dropped the entire investigation against Koren
Publications, Tedd Koren and all your literature. Congratulations."
Betsy Lehrfeld, one of our attorneys, recited a poem she wrote especially
for the occasion. As the poem was read Beth began to cry.
After 6 ½ years it's over. "In all my years with the FTC," said one of our
attorneys (who had worked at the FTC), "I've never seen a letter like
this." Jim Turner added, "I've seen regulatory cases remain as open
investigations on the books for over 30 years."
Finally. It still hasn't all sunk in yet. Six and a half years
investigating us and they didn't level a single charge at us, not a single
charge of any wrongdoing. After 6 ½ years they couldn't find a single
violation. They only succeeded in frightening me and my family and hurting
our business and smearing my name and scaring our professional colleagues.
How did we do it? With tremendous emotional and financial support from many
in the profession (you know who you are). We are forever in your debt. But
it all hinged on the intellectual and legal talents of a law firm that
fights for health care freedom: Swankin and Turner. It is to Jim Turner,
Dave Swankin, Charlie Brown, Betsy Lehrfeld and Christopher Turner that the
entire chiropractic profession owes a tremendous debt. They led us through
the tortuous machinations within the world of regulatory agencies.
Last night we celebrated-we took Seth and Shayna out for pizza and ice
cream. Well, it was getting late and we couldn't drive 3 ½ hours to
Washington (though if we had gotten the call earlier, we would have).
We do intend to go to Washington and have a real celebration dinner with
our legal team and Dr. Harris Coulter who was our philosophical mentor and
has known and worked with Jim for thirty years. We have a special gift
picked out and hope to have Betsy's poem done in calligraphy.
The poem attorney Betsy Lehrfeld wrote was:
The letter came, we took a peek
It said that Tedd is free to speak
The FTC will take a pass
And let Tedd Koren now, at last
No longer have any trepidation
About telling the truth on vaccination
Or helping docs their patients tell
How chiropractic makes them well!
More Than a Personal Victory
This is much more than a personal victory. This is a victory for the entire
profession and for all non-medical health care and for all people who wish
to tell the truth, whether the medical establishment likes it or not.
Most importantly, it is a victory for patients. Patients can be told the
chiropractic story and doctors can continue to tell that story without fear
of government reprisal.
"The chances of them ever going after a chiropractor who bases his or her
statements on facts again or anyone stating their opinion on medical
procedures is very, very, very remote," said Jim Turner. "They know they've
made a big mistake in attacking substantiated minority science as false and
Now we're going to go on the offensive in the medical paradigm wars. Jim
and I are starting a new organization dedicated to fighting for health care
freedom-Health Care Choice, Inc. I hope the government and the poorly
informed "experts" it relied on will rue the day they got us together.
What Was This Really About?
It was May 19th, 1998. At Federal Trade Commission offices they told us
that from now on private conversations between a chiropractor and patient
could be considered "advertising" and the DC could be fined $10,000 a day
for violating the new FTC position. If a chiropractor gave an unapproved
lay lecture the fine could be $10,000. If a chiropractor had an ad in a
newspaper or the Yellow Pages that violated the new FTC view the fine would
be $10,000-per copy printed. It's the same with any patient education
materials, not only Koren Publications.
What was unapproved? Anything that implied chiropractic is anything other
than a treatment for some types of low-back pain. Any chiropractor who said
chiropractic care would enhance wellness, health, improve anyone's life or
that individuals with any health problem (other than some low back pain)
should seek chiropractic care was to be prevented from disseminating this
information. Telling the chiropractic story was to be illegal.
The FTC lawyers said I couldn't criticize childhood vaccinations. They said
I (we) terrify parents with statements about chiropractic, childhood
vaccinations and natural health care.
So why weren't you and others in the profession fined? Clinics closed?
Schools sent warnings?
Because we blocked those rulings from coming into effect. We ran
interference and an entire major federal regulatory agency had to get rid
of Koren before it could proceed to muzzle and gag the entire chiropractic
profession. After us they could march on the rest of the alternative health
It was never just about Tedd Koren or Koren Publications. A major federal
regulatory agency doesn't spend 6½ years and hundreds of thousands of
dollars, planning strategies, holding meetings, keeping extensive records
to make one chiropractor change three patient education brochures. That was
what the original complaint was about, but those who understand federal
regulatory techniques know what the intent was-chill public expression by
"This FTC investigation was as much about alternative health as it was
about Tedd Koren," Jim Turner once told us. "This is a test case--the
future of what a chiropractor can say to his or her patients, and to the
general public, in writing, advertising, in public forums is at stake. This
will also impact all alternative health care. The FTC brings about
investigations like this to affect an entire industry, not just to go after
one person or company."
How many vitamin companies did the FDA go after when they wished to make
vitamins by prescription only? One! But the entire vitamin industry had a
call to arms, they understood what was at stake.
Why Did They Go After Koren Publications?
Why did they go after us? "There are many suppliers of patient education to
the chiropractic profession, why did you go after Koren?" an attorney asked
"Oh, we've seen the other products. Koren's products are the best written,
best referenced and most convincing. We usually go after the leaders. If we
can take them down, everyone else follows."
So it was never about only me. It was about us; the entire profession and
all alternative health care. Perhaps it was best they went after Koren
Publications first. We prevented them from making a precedent.
You are now a little bit freer. We are now all a little bit freer.
Looking back, why was it so difficult for people to stand up for freedom?
Why was there so much hesitation? Don't we pride ourselves on being a free
Freedom is nothing unless you fight for it. Governments, private groups,
special interests are always trying to change laws, regulations, rules, and
twist them for their purposes. As Thomas Jefferson said, "The natural
progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. May we awaken from the slumber
we have lounged in and see how regulatory agencies, government
organizations, committees and other bodies slowly gnaw away at our liberty.
Attacks on freedom come in many guises, and we must stop sleeping while our
liberties are replaced with chains.
An old Chinese proverb says, "When the people are strong, the government is
weak. When the people are weak, the government is strong."
May we grow strong and stronger. The forces of government and regulatory
repression weaker. They will again surface. Will you be ready for them?
Give 'em health,
Tedd Koren, DC