Less than two months after the Atlanta Journal-Constitution did an investigation into the prescription drug practices of weight-loss specialist Dr. Jan McBarron, the Columbus physician appears to have announced her retirement.
On a sign in front of the Macon Road Georgia Bariatrics office that usually has a catchy, pun filled, weight-loss message, reads: “Doc is retiring March 23.”
McBarron, 66, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday afternoon. Her office was open and employees said she was in a meeting out of the office.
McBarron came under scrutiny when ajc.com published its investigative report on Dec. 22.
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, and her husband, Duke Liberatore, have been a fixtures in Columbus for almost three decades. She has been a high-profile, weight-loss doctor and he has owned stores that have sold vitamins, natural foods and health supplements.
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.
One of the issues pointed out in the ajc.com report was how McBarron’s prescription of phentermine ran counter to the image she had projected.
McBarron’s personal story of her own weight loss has been part of the marketing effort for her practice over the years.
She also has an office in Opelika, Ala.