A California man, arrested by the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office, allegedly treated cancer patients with substances with no known medicinal value. He also stands accused of charging his customers thousands of dollars for his service.
Vincent Gammill is out on bail following his arrest, as law enforcement officials are pondering what charges could be filed against the 69-year-old defendant. The arrest, which took place early in July, was carried out for charges of practicing medicine without a license, furnishing dangerous drugs without a license, and dependent adult abuse. A search of the defendant's home revealed the presence of approximately 25,000 prescription pills, including morphine, steroids, and the sleep aid Ambien. Many of these pills were produced in Russia and Mexico.
The Natural Oncology Institute, where Gammill is listed as director, was still online as of July 18. The organization, founded in 2001, was previously known as the Center for the Study of Natural Oncology (CSNO).
"CSNO finds and presents the facts as known by the brightest scientists, researchers, and clinicians from around the world. CSNO commissions its own studies in areas where knowledge is lacking. Information is presented after reviewing all research available to assist the client in making an educated decision about their health plan and finding the best course of treatment for their specific situation," The Natural Oncology Institute, which lists a Berkeley address, reports on its Web site.
Police began their investigation of Gammill after a customer of his, who identifies herself simply as Fern, tipped off law enforcement to what she believed to be suspicious behavior. She reports paying Gammill $2,000 for a two-day supply of capsules, packed with oils and powders of uncertain composition.
"She began to get a burning sensation in her stomach and Gammill told the victim it was good her stomach was burning because that meant the ingredients were still active," police officials investigating the case report.
Law enforcement is looking to see if other patients who received treatment from Gammill also experienced similar results. Police report they have seen no evidence that the defendant ever received any medical training. Gammill describes himself, on the organization's Web site, as a former "pharmaceutical designer and consultant who chose to work with natural products and methods whenever possible."
Fern tells the press she traveled 300 miles to visit Gammill for a two-day session. When she got to her destination, the practitioner appeared to be unaware of basic information in the patient's medical profile. On the second day, she disagreed with his version of her treatment history, prompting her to visit the police.
Gammill was released on $10,000 bail, and is due back in court on Aug. 31.