GP’s defamation battle settles out of court

Michelle Wisbey

4/09/2023 4:16:37 PM

It cost three years and $700,000, but a hard-fought legal battle is finally over for Melbourne GP, Dr Adam Smith.

Melbourne GP Adam Smith standing in Supreme Court.
Melbourne-based GP Dr Adam Smith has spent $700,000 battling the defamation claims (image: supplied).

Since 2020, Dr Adam Smith has been defending himself against defamation allegations from US-based naturopath Dr Farrah Agustin-Bunch, in proceedings that have cost him countless hours, sleepless nights and hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The case began in the wake of videos he posted to YouTube that questioned the medical benefit of therapeutic products she was promoting to millions of followers on her various social media channels.
Dr Agustin-Bunch, who gained her medical degree in the Philippines, claimed her proprietary mix of herbs and vitamins could treat stage four cancer and used her influence to market products including Pixie Dust, Boston C, Mega‑Dose Vitamin C, Doctor’s Shake and Lightning in a Bottle.

Earlier this year, newsGP reported that the protracted legal battle had been heading towards a showdown in the Victorian Supreme Court in April next year, but Dr Smith has since revealed, the fight is now over.
‘The case was settled on mutually beneficial terms,’ he told newsGP.
His Doc Adam YouTube channel, presented in Filipino, was aimed at improving the medical knowledge of the nation’s locals, amassing millions of views and subscribers.

Earlier this year, a pre-trial judgment was held in the Victorian Supreme Court in which Justice John Dixon rejected a large number of claims in the defamation case.
Justice Dixon considered 96 questions for preliminary determination relating to 10 videos, rejecting many of them.
‘I have concluded that most of the imputations carried by the videos are expressions of opinion,’ he said.
‘Reasonably construed, he was criticising her advice as to treatments from a medical perspective.
‘The hypothetical viewer would conclude that the meaning conveyed was that the advice she gave was dangerous not that the person herself was dangerous.’
Dr Smith previously told newsGP he welcomed the rejection of several claims.
Dr Agustin-Bunch’s medical centre in the Philippines was reportedly shut down in 2018, while in 2021 the US Food and Drug Administration issued a warning about the products she marketed.
An order has also been made by the Texas Medical Board ordering her to ‘cease and desist any unlicensed practice of medicine’ in the state.
‘Respondent is prohibited from acting as, or holding herself out to be, a licenced physician in the State of Texas,’ the order said.
She has reportedly appealed the decision.
And while Dr Smith can begin to move on from the legal battle, a GoFundMe campaign to help cover his legal costs remains active.
It has so far raised around $31,000 of its $50,000 target.
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Dr Greg Saville   5/09/2023 8:47:57 AM

This guy is a legend. I had no hesitation in supporting his online donation campaign. We need more decent, intelligent doctors like Adam going into bat for our patients. I hope he continues to fight against misinformation wherever it may be. Good luck!

Dr Bandula Abeywickrama   10/09/2023 11:46:25 AM

Dr Adam Smith, you are a selfless person who is deeply concerned about patients.