'20/20' Interview with Sam Caster



Uh, okay, Sam Caster, thank you very much for participating in this "20/20" interview.


INTERVIEWER Let me just ask you first off about, um … what your feeling is about when associates go past what Manatech(?) can claim legally. When …



… there have been occasions that I've seen where, in fact, have disciplined associates for saying too much or claiming too much. So when you hear these claims what do you think?

SAM CASTER Well, I think, first of all, uh, it's the context in which a claim is made. For instance, what we make sure our associates understand, Jim, is that dietary supplements are not designed to treat cure or mitigate disease. And we put that in all of our literature We put it in all of our training. We put it on every bottle of product. So the claims that we regulate are when people try to associate our product, branded name with an inappropriate claim for treatment, cure, or mitigation.

But then there's a broad spectrum of things that are utilized in the marketplace that do not constipate (sic) a … a treatment for cure claim. For instance, the dietary supplement law allows for the distribution of educational materials. So, for instance, uh … a retrospective study or a prospective study or a case study, or quality-of-life survey on … let's say something like cystic fibrosis. Where in the case we did a quality-of-life survey with a 108 families with kids with CF.

And these are kids that are under doctors' care. These are kids that are taking standard of care treatment and a what we were looking for, and what we're always looking for, is the quality of life improvement that can be achieved through the intervention of good quality nutrition.

INTERVIEWER And this, of course, was a double-blind clinical study?

SAM CASTER No. This was not a double-blind study. This is quality-of-life survey. Uh (Overlap)



INTERVIEWER … so how much scientific basis does that really have?

SAM CASTER I think it has a tremendous amount of scientific basis for quality-of-life improvement. Uh, for instance, when we were going to do the quality-of-life improvement survey, we called The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and asked them, "Which survey would you recommend?" And they gave us the one that they thought had the most credibility.

So in dietary supplements, if you're not looking for an alternative cure to a disease, what you're trying to validate is the integration of dietary supplements into standard-of-care therapies. And what quality of life might that bring? And so when associates talk in reference sometimes to materials that are published under the guidelines of DeShay(?), it's totally appropriate.

Now it is our responsibility to make sure that they articulate those things appropriately and we spent a lot of time training our associates showing them how to distinguish a true cure claim from a quality-of-life enhancement claim.

INTERVIEWER And how many times do you estimate, or do you know …


INTERVIEWER … that your associates have, in fact, gone over the line and you've had to discipline them?

SAM CASTER Well, I think mainly what we do is we do our -- we have various types of compliance efforts. Some are pro-active, where we're searching the Internet looking for branded names of our products that might be linked in some way to something that might give the implication of a disease claim. If we find that that has occurred, then we take action against that individual.

And typically it's an educational process. Most people don't understand because the law's very complex around use of various types of materials.

Our field actually self-regulate themselves. Most of the input that we get from a compliance is actually submitted from the field. They heard something, they saw something. And … or saw a new piece of literature or something in the marketplace. And so we get inquiries frequently from people asking those types of questions.

INTERVIEWER You have a compliance department. How often have they had to tell associates, "Stop this." Or reprimand an associate. "Stop this or you will be suspended" How many have you suspended?

SAM CASTER Well, every month we get inquiries like that. I mean every month. And so I would say in the hundreds they were talking to people throughout the year. Uh, but again, these things are not necessarily specific to a disease claim. They could be anything from misrepresentation potentially of … of a product, to whether they're using a material appropriately or where they're doing the meeting or the sinage(?).

So there's a lot of things that come in in terms of inquiries. But we do discipline. The people that we have asked to leave the company are the people that we have taken through the educational process. And for whatever reason, either don't get it or refuse to cooperate. And in that case, we do take them and invite them to leave the company.

INTERVIEWER So I'm going to ask you one more time …



… if … is there a number?


I don't know that I could give you a specific number. Uh, as I told you I think every months we get inquiries. And every month, we get self-compliant responses. But, again, they're … they're all across the board. So I don't know specifically what you're looking for … but I can tell you that on a monthly basis, you know, we deal with compliance issues.

INTERVIEWER So let me to the … let me get specific then.


INTERVIEWER And on these DVDs that are sold … not inside your meeting but right outside the door …


INTERVIEWER … um … they make some pretty specific things. First, they all seem to give a disclaimer. First, they do say … it isn't medicine. It doesn't cure or mitigate anything.


INTERVIEWER Just as you just said a moment ago.


INTERVIEWER And then there are like two hours of testimonials of people who say, "I was cured from cancer. Cancer mysteri- … miraculously has gone away." So do you see how there's a disconnect there? And how people could be confused about what Manatech thinks its product can do?

SAM CASTER Well, you know, I think there … it's a complex situation. I think …

INTERVIEWER What's complex about it? It (Overlap)

SAM CASTER Well, I (Overlap)

INTERVIEWER If … if you claim a cure …


INTERVIEWER … and yet, then right afterwards, people … do claim a cure.

SAM CASTER Well, what's complex about it is that … uh, everybody in modern health care acknowledges the fact that nutrition plays an important role in the body's ability to function appropriately. Uh, Dr. Roger Williams, past president of The American Chemical Society wrote a book called "Nutrition Against Disease."

And he said the human body heals itself. And nutrition provides the molecules that are necessary to support the body's ability to do that. Uh, there's a whole new movement in medicine called Integrative Medicine. It's being taught now at … at multiple universities' medical school.

And essentially it's about a holistic view of how everything plays in the health care equation. So you know, the … what is complex is … how does nutrition move into mainline health care? Because it's very clear -- and we're very clear -- nutrition is not designed to treat, cure, mitigate disease, meaning it is not meant to substitute standard of care, it is not meant to substitute a doctor's oversight. But it plays an important role in the whole health equation. I think what you find across the country now in a lot of these new cancer centers is they're using dietary supplements and nutrition as key roles in the overall holistic therapy of people with disease processes.

It takes nothing away from the doctor's ability to deal with the patient. It doesn't substitute for standard of care. It just simply provides a new mechanism in terms of old paradigm of health care for supporting the body's natural processes. So I think when you start talking, in general, about why is it complex … it's because you're showing quality-of-life benefit through dietary supplements in conjunction with standard-of-care therapy.

And a lot of times people see that and they go, "Well, gee, that sounds a little bit like a health claim." But it's a nutritional claim. I mean it's exactly what nutrition was designed to do. Support human physiology.

INTERVIEWER So when … on these DVDs that are sold just outside your meetings.



When someone says that they're … "When they introduced me to this, it was because my son-in-law had just been diagnosed with bladder cancer. And the prognosis was very bad. And he started on the food products and went back one month later for a biopsy and the doctor came from surgery and said, "I don't know what you guys have been doing but the tumor is gone. The urine is clear of atypical cancer cells. The bladder is pink and one month ago it was gray." This is one of those testimonials. Is that a fair sales tactic?

SAM CASTER Well, again, that's not our literature. That is third-party material. (Overlap)

INTERVIEWER Sold right (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible)

INTERVIEWER … outside your door of your meeting.


Yeah. Health food stores are capable of selling all kinds of materials.


But this is not (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible)

INTERVIEWER … a health food store. This is outside (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible)

INTERVIEWER … your sales meeting.

SAM CASTER I know. And what I'm saying is that we get extended the same rights as a health food store in terms of the materials that can be sold. But let me just say this. What we find out there, Jim, is … for instance, there was a … a study done by an oncologist on the intervention of our particular glyco(?) nutrients in terms of standard-of-care therapies on cancer.

INTERVIEWER Again, I'm asking you (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible)

INTERVIEWER … you use the word "study". I need you to be clear.


INTERVIEWER This is not again, not a double-blind scientifically accepted peer-reviewed published study, is it?

SAM CASTER Well, I think pilot studies are accepted in scientific. It's not a double-blind placebo. But an oncologist that does a quality-of-life survey on a hundred patients and standard of care is scientific.

INTERVIEWER Peer reviewed and published (Overlap)


(Inaudible) It was peer reviewed by the presentation organization that he made it to. In other words, sometimes poster presentations are done in scientific meetings and those are peer reviewed. In his study, what he showed is that a hundred patients using glyco nutrients, in conjunction with standard of care saw less toxicity and saw improvement in quality of life.

He wasn't making a claim for a new treatment for cancer. He's simply stating that dietary supplements of good quality can enhance the healing process, can enhance quality of life. So if I knew somebody that was taking cancer therapy, I think I would want to share with them all the news that I knew about the positive benefits of dietary supplements. I mean again, human physiology … this is as old as the hills. This is not a new concept in medicine.

From the beginning of recorded time, you know, doctors have said "Let your food be your medicine, your medicine be your food." Uh, Peraselfus(?), the father of pharmacology, said, "Everything man needs to sustain life is provided by god and nature. The job of science, science, to go find those components." Uh, and so that's exactly what science is doing. They're isolating the types of molecules that support all those basic physiological functions of recovery. And regeneration.


Okay. Let me talk to you about Angie Rhodes, who is a … user of your products.


INTERVIEWER And she's putting a lot of faith in your product, in fact, she is … not using what the doctors have recommended, which is chemotherapy and radiation. Instead has substituted that with your product because she believes it will cure cancer. Do you think … got any idea how she gets that impression?

SAM CASTER Well, I … you know, I think she talked … I mean I saw the same story that you did. It sounds like she talked to her college professor who encouraged her to use glyco nutrients. And I think, Jim, what we're finding all over the country … is this is not unique to Manatech. This is something that is going on in the world today. People are looking first, on a wait-and-see basis on more non-invasive, non-toxic, you know, forms of complementary health care before they engage in the more toxic, more, you know, evasive forms. Uh, it's my understanding that she still sees her doctor. It's my understanding that she feels that she's not getting a good response, she would switch immediately into standard of care. Uh, plain old people are making these decisions on their own all across the country. And that's not unique to Manatech Associates. I think that's symptomatic of what is going on globally.

INTERVIEWER She says though that she … is taking it because of the testimonial from her professor and also from the testimonals (sic) … testimonials she's read on the Web site, which … on the Web sites which say that they can cure cancer. Is there anything you want to tell her about whether it can cure cancer or not?

SAM CASTER Well, again, dietary supplements are not designed to treat, cure, or mitigate any disease. And I would tell her that … that our supplements are not designed to do that. Uh, what dietary supplements are designed to do is support all the basic physiology of recover and repair. I would never recommend, as a company, or as an individual that somebody not use a doctor or not use standard of care. But again, that's an individual choice out there that people make all the time related to us and non-related to us (Overlap)

INTERVIEWER Would you tell her to use the chemo and the radiation her doctors are telling her to do if she were your daughter?

SAM CASTER If she talked to me personally about it, I would say "Use standard of care." Uh, but again, she's an adult and she's capable of making her own decision, which many people are doing all across the country on how they want to pursue better health.

INTERVIEWER So let's … make it clear. So just … Andie's(?) watching … we've interviewed her. She's watching. Here you are … the … in charge of this company that makes this product she's risking her life taking … right now.


INTERVIEWER Clearly … does your product cure cancer?

SAM CASTER No. I would say we do not make that claim. Uh, dietary supplements don't treat or cure … and this is not just a leave(?) claim. Dietary supplements don't treat or cure anything. They don't. Uh, if you put glyco nutrients in a cell culture, containing cancer cells, it would not kill the cancer cells.

What dietary supplements do is support the body's basic physiology. The body has a lot of healing mechanism … a lot of defense mechanisms that are supported by very specific nutrients. In many cases, you know, the body does some amazing things in terms of supplying better health. Uh (Overlap)

INTERVIEWER You know (Overlap)

SAM CASTER And I think though, Jim … I'm sorry.


SAM CASTER I think … I think in Angie's case … I would tell her as a … as a company representative that it is prudent to follow your doctor's care. But again, individuals are making decisions like this all over the place not specifically, you know, isolated to Manatech.

INTERVIEWER You know, when I asked Angie …


INTERVIEWER … directly the same question I asked you … "Will it cure your cancer? And if it did, why wouldn't the company say that it does?"


INTERVIEWER She says that you're … you don't say it because the FDA won't let you. Is that true?

SAM CASTER (Inaudible)

INTERVIEWER Is that the only reason you don't say they will cure cancer is because the FDA won't let you?

SAM CASTER Well, I mean there's no doubt that the regulatory environment around dietary supplements is very specific about treatment, cure, mitigation. That is not the role of dietary supplements. (Inaudible) (Overlap)

INTERVIEWER But is that why …

SAM CASTER (Inaudible)

INTERVIEWER … is that the only reason you don't … you say it won't cure cancer is because the FDA won't let you? Or do you believe it cures cancer and you just can't say it?

SAM CASTER No, I don't think dietary supplements treat, cure, mitigate anything. I think dietary supplements support the body's ability to heal itself. That's not my thought. You know, that is Dr. Roger Williams and most scientists that understand human physiology.

Now to the degree that the body can heal itself … depends on a lot of factors out there. Uh, and we find that … that modern medicine has brought an awful lot to the table in that equation. But just because modern medicine brings a lot to the table … in terms of treatment or cure, does not necessarily negate the value of good nutrition in the … holistic effect of good health.

INTERVIEWER So I'll just finish up with this particular area of questioning …


INTERVIEWER … by going down the list because there's a long list of things people out there are saying …


INTERVIEWER … your product cures. But I want to make sure I get it from the horse's mouth.





Does it cure cystic (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible)

INTERVIEWER … fibrosis?

SAM CASTER Let me just say no, it doesn't cure anything. You can ask me the whole list of diseases (Overlap)

INTERVIEWER Why don't I ask you the list of diseases that are on the Web sites that people believe the cures. Not just a random … I'm not just picking a random list.


INTERVIEWER It's … Down Syndrome. Does it cure that?

SAM CASTER No. And let me as you something, Jim. I mean you're saying that people are saying that these things are curative.


SAM CASTER Let me just say that when there's a … when there is quality-of-life surveys that are done on cystic fibrosis, since you mentioned that … 90 percent of the kids saw a positive quality-of-life experience in conjunction with standard of care. Wouldn't it be appropriate to encourage children with cystic fibrosis to take something with that benefit? Or myasthenia(?) gravis, which is another study, an auto-immune disorder, where again, 90 percent of the people responded with better quality of life. Nobody had a negative effect and there's no toxicity.

So there is a fine line out there, you know, between supporting the body's normal physiology and somehow converting that to a claim of cure.

INTERVIEWER Well, you said … you went to the myasthenia gravis, right? Was one of the ones you just mentioned.


INTERVIEWER Okay. On their Web site, the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America Web site, a summary of the study you're referring to said the office presented an unblinded, non-controlled study. From the presentation it was not possible to assure that all patients in the study had … even had the disease Also because both patients and the observer were blind- … unblinded, placebo effect could not be eliminated. Isn't that the problem with everything you cite … that they're … these are not real scientific studies. In fact, they're rejected time after time by the people who invented glyco biology…


Well, I don't know if they were designed by the people who invented glyco biology. That's (Overlap)


They're rejected …

SAM CASTER … oh, rejected by them. Well, let me just say this … Andrew Wile(?), who is the director of integrative medicine … at the University of Arizona, I think, put this all in the context. He should … he said the standards for which we evaluate the efficacy of products should be directly related to the toxicity at the harm that can be done.

In other words, if you're talking about bringing a new drug to market that could possibly kill people because of its toxicity, it should require, like it does now … 12 years and $400 million worth of research. On the other hand, if you have a non-toxic … non-evasive dietary supplement that is showing a true enhancement to quality of life … in a variety of different disease conditions, it shouldn't require the same standard that has been set up for … for drug approval. (Inaudible) (Overlap)

INTERVIEWER So you should be able to say anything you want …


INTERVIEWER … about it?

SAM CASTER I think you should have some level of science to support what you're saying. And I think, Jim, when good quality doctors, like the guy that did the myasthenia gravis study … and by the way, uh, he went back and made sure he presented an interim report to … the foundation. The criticism came up that, you know, "Had you got the proper diagnosis from each one of these patients?" And he said, "No. I … I depended upon their doctors to tell me."

So he went back and validated all that. Now when he submitted the paper for publication, he absolutely knows that each one of those patients was properly diagnosed with myasthenia gravis. Now there's still going to be the debate over … whether or not it should be (Overlap)

INTERVIEWER When … when was that published by the way?


No, he submitted it for publication (Overlap)


Where did he submit it to?

SAM CASTER You know, I'm not real sure. It's a major scientific journal but … I'm not sure which one it is.


SAM CASTER So, anyway, Jim, you know, I … all I'm saying is that … the standards that are held up for pharmaceutical development should not be the same standards that are required of dietary supplements to play a key role in the overall health strategy.

INTERVIEWER Okay. Let's turn to your patent.


INTERVIEWER Okay? This is a document that you folks are very proud of. Your sales associates us it often in selling your product. Some astonishing claims are made in this … document. A few of them are that MS … that the disease MS restored sensory and muscular control … as far as Down Syndrome. Appearance improvements. And, of course, you have that famous picture that is on … some of your sales things … the Down Syndrome (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible) that picture's not on any of our sales things but I …

INTERVIEWER I think it's on … on … again, on brochures and tablets (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible) the literature …



SAM CASTER … that is out there.

INTERVIEWER It's out there, right outside your door … when you hold these sales meetings. Um … rheumatoid arthritis … restoration scope of movement(?)


INTERVIEWER 12:23:55 Lymphoma. Normalization of tissue biopsies. Leukemia, a cancer, a correction of chromosomes. There's a lot of things on that … in that patent …

SAM CASTER (Inaudible)

INTERVIEWER … that you say are not true … that it doesn't do any of those things. And yet the patent says it does. Which should I believe?

SAM CASTER Well, what the patent states are all of the places where we have seen and observed a response. Now that doesn't mean that's the claim we would make going into our marketing literature. It just says that if we want to take any one of those circumstances and build that into a drug claim, we are protecting that in our patent.

We may choose never to pursue a drug claim for any of these things. But the patent is the place where you put all of the things that you're … that you've seen evidence of, just in case you want to pursue a drug product in the future.

So … we've actually put out literature and training materials to our associate base that say … "Listen, the patent is substantial. It protects our composition. But you can't use the claims in the patent to sell the product because they're not scientifically valid for making that type of a claim.

INTERVIEWER So your (Inaudible) (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible) doesn't belong in the patent.

INTERVIEWER So your sales associates should not be using the patent to sell this product?

SAM CASTER They should not be using those claims and link with our product in terms of selling the product. Okay.

(OFF-MIKE) INTERVIEWER So let's go to the associates.


INTERVIEWER And I'm going through this quickly because we have a limited amount of time.


INTERVIEWER There is a video, of course, that was taken by hidden camera at one of your … um, sales meetings. And a person by the name of Kim Whitely(?) says … she seemed to suggest it was okay to target people who have … who are sick with certain incurable diseases. They might be the people you go to … and you sell to … because they're looking for something to help them with whatever disease they have. And she says, quote, "You can't tell people that it's going to cure anything. But you can say 'I think I have something that will help you with your cancer.'"

INTERVIEWER And then somebody asks … asks her, "And cancer, obviously that's a big one. What other kind of diseases can I talk about?" And your sales associate says, "Anything. Autism, MS, cystic fibrosis, depression, autoimmune disease, arthritis." Is that going too far?

SAM CASTER Well, again, I don't know the context of the meeting. So it's hard for me to comment on that specific but let me say this. You know, JAMA, "The Journal of American Medical Association," put an article out several years ago that said, "Fifty percent of the entire population of the United States that are under doctor's care first seek some compter (sic) … uh, complementary non-invasive, you know, strategy fro their health." So they've already identified that a good section of the marketplace that is looking for improvement of quality of life and are looking to dietary supplements to help provide that."

That's not saying that they're voiding out their doctors, not looking for standard-of-care therapy … but they're definitely looking, you know, for a better quality of life through dietary intervention. There's to much information out there to support that. Uh, a best-selling author by the name of Paul Zane Pilzer(?) … wrote a book recently called "The … The Wellness Revolution." A best-seller, New York Times best-seller list.

And basically said one of the most aggressive markets for dietary supplements are the people whose health is already compromised. And they're in standard-of-care therapy but they want to feel better. They're looking for better quality of life.

So, you know, again, without going into the context of … of that particular conversation … there's no doubt that the marketplace out there of people that are aging, trying to stay younger … that are already health compromised, trying to feel better are looking towards dietary supplements. And, again, this is a huge movement in medicine, too. Integrative medicine, which is now taught in over 30 medical schools brings that holistic approach. And establishes the value for things outside of standard of care. So I don't think it's inappropriate for people to talk about where the marketplace is for people who are looking and wanting good quality dietary supplements with good scientific basis for them.

INTERVIEWER Well, there's some other associates here that I wanted to ask you about.

SAM CASTER Uh-hm. (Clears Throat)

INTERVIEWER A presidential associate, Tim Altvater(?), who I think you might be familiar with 'cause he's named specifically in the lawsuit against you folks … was invited to address other associates at your own corporate event last year manifest and he seemed to suggest the same kind of thing.

Um, he said … what he seems to be doing is suggesting that targeting peo- … sick people is acceptable. That's an acceptable sales technique because … it's kind of niche marketing. They know that they are … ill. They know that they are health compromised I think is the word you used.


INTERVIEWER And that they might be looking for something.


INTERVIEWER So is it … fair when he does … when he says … to the people out there … in your … the sale … he's talking to salespeople … "How many of you can think of a target or a marget (sic) to tar- … a market to target? think of one … throw it out." And they start yelling, "Autism, cancer, diabetes. There's millions, right? Now if they're health specific, can you mention Manatech?"

The audience yells, "No." "Absolutely not," he says. "But you can build a list of people who want to know about that particular set- … situation. Audience yells, "Yes." "Can you call them and take care of what you have and share what you have?" "Yes. And might six … might some people want it?" "Yes." SAM CASTER Uh-hm.

INTERVIEWER That sounds as though … directly you're looking for people who are sick with cancer, and using them … as the market. That's your market. And you're … and you're giving them your product … with the assumption along with these testimonials that it's going to cure them. Or help them.

SAM CASTER Well, I think, you know, I mean that's your conclusion that that's the assumption. Uh, again …

INTERVIEWER What's your conclusion (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible) INTERVIEWER … that that's … from (Overlap)

SAM CASTER (Inaudible)

INTERVIEWER … give and take … what is it (Overlap)

SAM CASTER My conclusion is this. That when "JAMA" reports that 50 percent of the people are looking for dietary supplements, whose hels (sic) is … whose health is compromised … "The Journal of American Medical Association" has established that's not just an niche market, that's a massive market. And the same thing with several authors … economists talking about how health care is shifting and why there's such a big movement towards integrative approach to medicine. More and more people … and this isn't just a small niche of people -- this is masses of people that are using standard-of-care therapies that want to improve their quality of life. If you believe that nutrition supports human physiology … then you got to believe that good nutrition quality standardized … scientifically valid nutrition can improve the quality of life of anyone regardless of their state of health. So I think it is obvious that there's a market out there of people whose health is compromised. There is a market of people who are aging …

SAM CASTER … not so gracefully. And both major segments are looking toward science to help validate the efficacy, you know, and the possibilities of better quality of life of dietary supplements. And I don't …