EXCLUSIVE: By Tom Powell
AN expat doctor is facing legal action for selling a new cancer therapy to an elderly member of the Swarovski dynasty, who has Alzheimer’s.
Marbella-based Max Froenicke, 82, has been slammed for charging €26,500 for the experimental treatment, which so far appears to be useless.
The doctor, whose name was removed from the German medical register in 2009, approached the wealthy pensioner at a private lunch in Estepona, where he claimed to be an authority on the treatment.
After the meal, Froenicke persuaded the great-granddaughter-in-law of jewellery company founder Daniel Swarovski, to undertake dendritic cell therapy.
She agreed and paid €10,000 in cash on the same day.
Following through on what he described as a ‘special discount’, Froenicke met the German at her Marbella home the next day to collect a cheque for the remaining €16,500.
However, her friend Michael Zimmerman, a fellow German expat who was also at the lunch, became concerned when he discovered the price and conditions of the treatment.
“I started to research the topic and found out she did not need this treatment, and now I want to find more of his patients to build a case,” said Zimmerman.
He initially contacted German medical specialist Thomas Nesselhut, who Froenicke had quoted in support of his treatment.
But Nesselhut claimed dendritic cell therapy would be ‘contraindicated in patients with Alzheimers’, in other words, it would be ineffective.
“I straight away realised I had to expose this man,” he explained, adding that lawyer Carlos Bustillo has now begun proceedings against him on behalf of the elderly patient.
“He was so convincing that nobody thought to properly research him,” Zimmerman added.
“I think he took advantage of an old, vulnerable and desperate woman who was clearly not thinking straight.
“Now we want to warn other potential victims and find anyone else he has treated in order to build this case against him.”
However, Froenicke has defended the treatment: “Dendritic cell therapy is very new but has had fantastic results worldwide in neurotrop diseases, especially Alzheimer’s.”
The doctor, who insists he has a licence in Spain, added: “I will be sending the patient concerned examples of these studies.”
He also insisted he had got a clear letter of consent from her on the day of the lunch.
However, a receipt given to the Swarovski family, in the name of Europaclinic healthdiagnostic SL, claims to be part of a bigger medical group Immucure.
This is remarkably similar, but a separate firm to Immucura, owned by Malaga-based German expat Johannes Schumacher, which also coincidentally offers dendritic cell therapies for Alzheimer’s patients across Spain.
Last night, Schumacher confirmed that he had stopped working with Froenicke after lawyer Bustillo revealed the complaint against him.
“I refused to continue working with him in July this year, the therapy in question was without my knowledge and consent,” said Schumacher.
He does however, stand by the treatment, insisting he has seen good results from Alzheimer’s patients. “Over four to six months their condition should improve,” he said.
Bustillo, from Marbella law firm Estudio Juridico Bustillo, confirmed he was on the case, but added: “I can’t comment at this early stage.”
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