Fda Raids Doctor's Office In Kent -- Nutritional-Medicine Practice Is Shut Down; Equipment Is Seized

KENT - The Food and Drug Administration raided and shut down the clinic of a doctor nationally recognized as an expert in nutritional medicine.

Federal agents, reportedly with guns drawn, rammed the door of the Tahoma clinic headed by Dr. Jonathan Wright yesterday morning and spent the day removing drugs and equipment. They were assisted by King County police.

"I was livid," Wright said. "We don't have any dangerous drugs. . . . What we have is about the safest thing you can use."

Wright, who is in practice with two naturopaths, practices nutritional medicine, which uses vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other food components to treat depression, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome and other ailments. The mainstream medical community considers such treatment unorthodox, he said.

Located on the East Hill of Kent, the clinic has treated about 10,000 patients since 1972, about a third of whom were from out of state.

The FDA would not comment on the raid. The U.S. Attorney's Office also refused to say why the raid was conducted.

A U.S. District Court search warrant listed 12 types of records, equipment and supplies that were to be searched for and seized, including an electronic detector known as the "Interro" used to test patients with severe allergies.

The Interro, which does not have FDA approval, measures galvanic skin resistance when a conducting rod is held up to different parts of the finger. Wright said he checked with his lawyer before using the device.

The clinic also uses preservative-free vitamins from Germany that are injected rather than swallowed. The FDA seized all foreign drugs and literature about them.

Patient records and phone lists also were seized.

The FDA also shut down the Meridian Valley Clinical Laboratory and For Your Health Pharmacy, where the Tahoma clinic frequently refers patients. All three are located in the same business complex.

Carlo Calabrese, a naturopathic doctor at the John Bastyr College of Naturopathic Medicine in Seattle, said Wright has a national reputation and is "exceedingly beneficial to a large number of patients."

Pennie Morehad, Tahoma clinic manager, believes the FDA raid was in retaliation for a lawsuit the clinic has pending against the federal agency.

The suit is over Tryptophan, an amino acid found in milk and used to treat ailments such as stress and premenstrual syndrome. Contaminated Tryptophan from Japan caused an outbreak of a rare blood disease and the FDA banned it.

Wright said his supply was tested and approved by the Mayo clinic.

"I think the FDA is trying to stomp out this clinic because Dr. Wright dared to fight back," Morehad said.

-- Times staff reporter Warren King contributed to this report.