A Columbus weight-loss doctor who was the subject of an Atlanta newspaper investigative report into her practice of prescribing drugs, said on Wednesday the ajc.com investigation had nothing to do with her upcoming retirement.
Dr. Jan McBarron has been practicing for three decades out of her Macon Road office, Georgia Bariatrics. A sign in front of the office reads: “Doc is retiring March 23.” She said when she retires, she and her husband, Duke Liberatore, plan to move to Nevada.
“My retirement plans were initiated over four years ago when my husband sold his business,” McBarron said in an email to the Ledger-Enquirer. “We decided that I would work until my mother, living next door, passed and then I would retire and we would move to Nevada, where we have other family. My mother passed last fall so I announced my retirement and will retire in March.”
Liberatore and McBarron owned Peachtree Natural Foods — a business started in 1991 — until selling it to a Utah-based company in 2014. They built the business into seven local stores.
The Ledger-Enquirer published a story about McBarron’s upcoming retirement on Monday. She was not available for comment. She later agreed to an on-the-record interview with the Ledger-Enquirer scheduled for Wednesday. Less than two hours before the interview was to take place, she canceled.
That was followed up with the email statement. The statement concluded with McBarron thanking her patients and colleagues.
“After more than 30 years as a dedicated physician, I will miss my patients and colleagues, but am grateful that I had the opportunity to treat so many people over the course of my career,” she said in the email.
McBarron, and her husband, Duke Liberatore, have been fixtures in Columbus for almost three decades. They had a long-running syndicated radio show, “Duke and the Doctor,” that promoted natural options to health care. The show ceased production in 2014.
The ajc.com report, which was published just before Christmas, took a critical look at McBarron’s prescription drug practices.
Last year, an informant contacted the AJC alleging that McBarron was prescribing and dispensing the appetite suppressant phentermine for people based solely on their answers to an online questionnaire, the report stated.
The Atlanta media outlet solicited two people who were not patients of McBarron to fill out the patient signup form on the website for the doctor’s practice.
The form required that they list their height and weight and note their understanding that they would be taking medication for the sole purpose of losing weight, according to the report.
Both were then sent emails saying they were patients and could obtain the drug online as well as in the doctor’s office, the report stated. They then were asked to complete a one-page questionnaire seeking information about their medical histories, according to the report. Within days of submitting the questionnaires, they received the medication via Federal Express, the report stated.
Phentermine is a controlled substance that can help with weight loss when used for a short time. It also has side effects such as rapid or irregular heartbeat, delirium, panic, psychosis and heart failure.
By law, it can’t be prescribed without a thorough examination, and federal authorities around the country have successfully prosecuted physicians for prescribing it improperly, according to the report.
McBarron declined to be interviewed for the ajc.com report.