A Duluth medical researcher has been disciplined by a state board for false or misleading advertising, unethical or improper conduct and fee splitting.

But Dr. Martin Charles Hinz, 66, says the actions against him amount to little and argues they were instigated by pharmaceutical companies angered by his research questioning a drug that’s used to treat Parkinson’s disease.

Ruth Martinez, executive director of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, agreed in a phone interview that the reprimand issued March 14 is a relatively mild sanction.

“It does not limit or prohibit practice in any way,” Martinez said. “It literally is laying out facts and saying, ‘We're reprimanding you for the conduct.’”

The order states that Hinz:

  • Must complete coursework on medical ethics within six months.

  • Must pay a civil penalty of $7,187.80 within six months.

  • May then petition for reinstatement of an unconditional license.

Hinz, licensed in 1988 to practice medicine and surgery, owns and operates Neuro Research Centers in a Morgan Park neighborhood building formerly known as the Morgan Park Clinic, where he practiced. He also previously owned a nutrition supplement distribution company known as CHK Nutrition of Duluth, according to the licensing board’s finding. Its product is known as CHK. He also owns DBS Laboratories, which tests the urine of Parkinson’s patients treated through his business.

In a telephone interview, Hinz said he hasn’t practiced medicine in a clinical setting in 18 years.

The board’s order states that it received a complaint that Hinz was engaging in false and misleading advertising and unethical claims on a website claiming he had “reinvented the medical science foundation of Parkinson’s disease” and boasting that “(we) treat and do things for our Parkinson’s disease patients that most doctors of the world believe are impossible.”

The “impossible” statement has since been removed from the website, according to the order.

It also cited an Aug. 15, 2019, meeting with Hinz in which he acknowledged recommending using CHK in telemedicine consultations. He said he continues to receive royalties from CHK, according to the order.

The definition of fee splitting, under Minnesota statute, includes “paying, offering to pay, receiving or agreeing to receive, a commission, rebate or remuneration, directly or indirectly, primarily for the referral of patients or the prescription of drugs or devices.”

Hinz signed the licensing board’s order. But in the interview, he argued he had been targeted ever since he and five other doctors published a paper in 2014 titled “The Parkinson’s Disease Death Rate: Carbidopa and Vitamin B6.” Carbidopa was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1976 to control the side effects of L-dopa, or levodopa, which the Mayo Clinic describes as the most effective medication against Parkinson’s.

But the paper, which was published in a journal called Clinical Pharmacology: Advances and Applications, noted that a year later, the death rate from Parkinson’s started to climb. It suggested that carbidopa was the culprit.

The paper irked powerful people, Hinz said.

“The drug companies, the first thing they’re going to do — this is a multi-billion-dollar drug worldwide — the first thing they’re going to do is try to discredit you,” Hinz said.

He said a “hatchet man” brought complaints against him not only to the licensing board but to the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education and the FDA. No action was taken by the other boards, Hinz said, and the licensing board dropped 90% of the complaints against him.

“I’m glad to get out of the mess,” he said. “I’ve got all the complaints behind me now.”