An Australian doctor who tried to correct health misinformation on YouTube is facing legal troubles after calling out another doctor and a brand of coffee with weight loss and whitening claims.
In a video on October 14, physician Adam Smith who goes by the name Doc Adam on YouTube informed his 1.7 million followers that he is leaving the platform after another popular doctor Farrah Agustin-Bunch and the head of a weight-loss brand called GlutaLipo filed lawsuits against him.
Doc Adam, who is currently residing and working in Australia, had been sharing healthcare information, advice and tips to his subscribers since 2017 based on his more than 10 years of experience as a medical practitioner.
He used to visit the Philippines through medical missions and had since learned to speak in Filipino.
In his latest vlog, Doc Adam disclosed that in the past two months, he received four letters from lawyers, death threats and rumors that he was banned from the Philippines. These prompted him to quit social media.
The latest letter from Agustin-Bunch’s lawyer who went to his office and wanted him to pay damages exceeding $100,000. The lawyer also threatened to remove his medical license from the Australian Medical Board.
Aside from Agustin-Bunch’s camp, Doc Adam also claimed that Leo Ortiz, the chief executive officer of GlutaLipo, had been defaming him and his business “everywhere.”
He also bared that Ortiz, Agustin-Bunch and her sister-in-law Tara Bunch appeared to be colleagues in promoting GlutaLipo products, which he previously criticized.
What got him in trouble
Comments on Dr. Farrah’s practice
Last September 12, Doc Adam uploaded a video with the title “The Worst ‘DOCTOR’ advice in the Philippines” where he countered some of Agustin-Bunch’s natural or alternative medicine practices with his own medical advice on serious illnesses such as cancer and swelling on one’s body.
He also questioned her training background at Harvard University as indicated on her Facebook page, which boasts of over 3 million followers.
As of writing, this specific academic credential is no longer indicated on the About section of her page. The only information remaining is:
“Dr. Farrah is a St. Louis University trained, licensed Medical Doctor (MD). Dr. Farrah promotes Natural Medicine since 2002 and has treated over 150,000 patients for cancer and various other illnesses.”
In 2018, the Food and Drug Administration ordered the closure of her own medical institution called The Dr. Farrah Agustin Bunch Natural Medical Center in Tarlac, Pangasinan which was found to be selling unregistered health products.
Doc Adam himself sells health-related products on his online shop, composed mostly of widely acknowledged low-carb and low-sugar food staple alternatives such as quinoa, chia seeds, nuts, black rice and red rice. He also sells Doc Adam-branded blender, portable cup and foot treatment devices.
Comments on GlutaLipo’s safety
Doc Adam also posted several videos about GlutaLipo, the earliest of which was on September 5 where he tried to explain the death of popular vlogger Lloyd Cadena.
In the six-minute clip, he clarified the rumors that Cadena died because of the coffee brand GlutaLipo, which he had endorsed prior to his death, and stressed that there’s no such direct link.
The doctor-YouTuber shared that he did some research and found an FDA report about a certain Leo Ortiz, CEO of Gluta Lipo.
“On 04 September 2019, the Regional Trial Court in Mandaluyong City promulgated a Judgment against Leo Plantilla Ortiz (Ortiz), owner of JLO General Merchandise, finding him guilty of violation of Republic Act No. 9711. He was sentenced to pay the fine of P100,000.00,” the report said.
In three succeeding videos, Doc Adam made updates to his followers that Ortiz threatened to sue him.
It was only on October 5, he uploaded another video that specifically discussed about the company titled “GlutaLipo exposed by real doctor,” which had since gained half a million views.
The company’s website lists products the company is selling, including “12-in-1 Glutalipo juice, coffee and milk tea drinks.”
The company was featured on ABS-CBN’s “My Puhunan” and other news outlets.
Support from his fans
Sorry pero #ProtectDocAdam ako💛✌️ Marami kasi akong natututunan sa kanya, yun lang po bye.👋
— Anne Clutz (@anneclutz) October 14, 2020
Dr. Carlo Trinidad, a health educator, likewise noted that Filipinos tend to believe in false information more than expert advice.
“Standing for the truth is very hard to do nowadays in an era of expert-shaming and fake news proliferation. I salute and support @docadamsmith for his continued crusade to battle health misinformation in our country,” Trinidad said.
A gaming Youtuber Gloco Gaming hoped that Doc Adam would file a counter lawsuit against Ortiz and Agustin-Brunch.
“Dumbest news I’ve heard today. A doctor being sued for defamation just because he’s educating the Filipino people when it comes to incorrect health practices. I hope Doc Adam wins with a counter law suit and gets compensated,” the tweet read.
Another user, meanwhile, noted that the people who take advantage of inaccessible health care in the country should be held accountable instead of putting the blame on the Filipino consumers.
“Don’t be angry at people who are desperate for healing, be angry at the people who exploit their vulnerability and those who make healthcare inaccessible for them,” the user wrote.