Chelationist Charles C. Adams, M.D. Sued for Medicare Fraud

Stephen Barrett, M.D.
March 11, 2019

Federal prosecutors have filed a False Claims Act complaint in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta against Charles C. Adams, M.D.; Charles C. Adams, M.D., P.C. d/b/a Full Circle Medical Center and Personal Integrative Medicine PLLC in Ringgold, Georgia [1]. The complaint alleges that Adams and/or his companies:

  • Submitted hundreds of false claims to Medicare for chelation therapy with edetate calcium disodium, a drug approved for treating lead poisoning, to treat Medicare beneficiaries who did not have lead poisoning.
  • Used the results of widely discredited “provoked” urine tests to tell patients that they had “heightened” levels of heavy metal that chelation could reduce, thereby alleviating medical problems such as high blood pressure, poor circulation, and premature aging, even though Medicare doesn’t cover such uses.

Edetate calcium disodium has a black box warning that it is “capable of producing toxic effects that can be fatal.” [2] The complaint stated that “provoked urine tests are unreliable, potentially dangerous, and should not be utilized in diagnosing heavy metal poisoning.”

At least ten state licensing boards, including Georgia’s board , have taken regulatory action against doctors who have used provoked testing as a prelude to chelation [3]. No disciplinary action has been taken against Adams, but his physician profile at Georgia’s Composite State Board of Medical Examiners indicates that he settled a medical malpractice case in 2008 for $450,000 and another in 2010 for $237,500. His profile lists his specialty as internal medicine, but he is not board-certified.

In 2016, Adams announced that he had engaged a billing service that has figured out “how to legally ethically, and non-fraudulently bill and be reimbursed” for chelation and other in-office IV therapies [4]. But it looks like the outcome was improper.

In 2017, Adams was president of the International College of Integrative Medicine, a nonprofit group that features “affordable introduction and advanced training in heavy metal toxicology and chelation therapy.” He became certified in Integrative and Holistic Medicine in 2011 by the Board of Integrative and Holistic Medicine, but neither this board nor such a specialty are recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, which is the standard-setting agency for the scientific medical community.

Court Documents

Here the the key documents from the False Claims Act case:

Date # Document
08/27/18 1 Complaint
11/28/18 13 Defendants’ motion to dismiss
02/19/19 23 United States’ brief in opposition to defendant’s motion to dismiss
03/05/19 24 Reply in support of defendants’ motion to dismiss
03/08/19 25 Order denying motion to dismiss
  1. The United States files False Claims Act complaint against Charles C. Adams, M.D., and affiliated entities. USAO press release. Aug. 31, 2018.
  2. Calcium disodium versenate. 3M Pharmaceuticals package insert, July2 004.
  3. Barrett S. How “provoked” urine metal tests are used to mislead patients. Quackwatch, Nov 23, 2018.
  4. Adams C. Medicare pays for chelation in-office IVs. Complementary Health Education Organization Web site, archived Dec 25, 2016.

This article was revised on March 11, 2019.