The tax haven-registered BEMER international AG sells controversial magnet therapy devices globally. Not recognized by medical science, BEMER cites research by an Institute for Microcirculation in Berlin (german: Institut für Mikrozirkulation) as proof for their devices’ effects. During my last visit to Berlin, I decided to find out if that obscure facility really exists.
[See also: Study finds BEMER to be useless in Fibromyalgia]
The institute is not in the phone book or any other address- or business directory. It’s not in the trade register, i.e. it is not a registered company. It’s not a registered trademark. The only hint we have is the institute’s website, which it maintains since 2014, first under institut-mikrozirkulation.de (defunct) and later as institute-microcirculation.com. The physical address mentioned there is the same as in their last regular paper, which dates back to 2013.
Note that the name has a spelling error (Reiner). The address is also false, there is no Erwin-Negelein-Haus in Bernau. However, there is an Erwin-Negelein-Haus at the Forschungscampus Berlin-Buch, Robert-Rössle-Str. 10. The website tells us the institute’s research lab is situated at this address, and so I started there. Armed with a BEMER business card I grabbed somewhere, I would pose as a churnalist, an idiot-level healthcare professional, or an interested reseller – just in case there’d be a real facility with real people.
The campus gatekeeper had never heard of such an institute, although he’s doing the job for several years now. Nobody had asked him so far for such an entity. The map and site directory list neither an Institut für Mikrozirkulation nor its director, Dr. Rainer Klopp, BEMER’s key expert.
The Negelein Haus is building no. D79. There is no such institute. The guiding plate at the entrance let shimmer through the names of the former labs and offices at the spot, and there has been no mark for an Institut für Mikrozirkulation on the former versions.
I inspected the building as far as possible. The labs and other premises are rather small, there is a number of companies which have post boxes in the hall. One of them is ICP Healthcare.
The co-author of the last paper mentioned above, Prof. Schulz, was affiliated with that company. Did he lend his address to Klopp’s institute?
The search would have ended here, but the gatekeeper found me a contact at BBB Management GmbH, which operates the whole campus. There was a nice and helpful guy, with whom I had this conversation, word-for-word:
I’m looking for an Institut fuer Mikrozirkulation, which claims to have research labs here. Have you ever heard of such an institution?
– Yes, that’s Dr. Klopp. It’s not here.
Can you tell me where the institute is?
– The address is [—]. You will find Dr. Klopp there.
The institute “is” Dr. Klopp? Not that I expected anything else, but that was remarkably direct.
The site in question is at Wiltbergstr. 50, a kilometre from the other. It’s a 19th century hospital ensemble. At the entrance I found that map, which finally was the first hint that an Institute for Microcirculation really exists, physically. On the lower right, from the bottom, the second entry.
The building was a 1,5 story pavillon, and at the back door 20d, between trash containers, there’s the sign I was searching for.
There is nothing but that plate (the name here correct: Rainer). No doorbell, the lock destroyed. Inside a rubble. From the german writings on the wall, it’s a former surgery from East German time, not any institute. There’s hardly any research work ongoing, since even the electricity cables are torn from the walls.
The same in the basement. All windows taped, appearingly the site is completely empty. No institute here. Possibly here are premises under construction, but there’s no Institute for Microcirculation or any related research facilities at the given addresses.
In late 2017, however, a new address appeared on the “institute’s” website: the management would be at Marktplatz 3, Bernau bei Berlin. Bernau is a small town about 15km away, just beyond Berlin’s city limits. Marktplatz is the central town square. It is quite small in this case, with only a handful of buildings. No. 3 looks this way.
There is a barber and a photographer downstairs. A local construction firm informs at its website, that the former offices in that house were turned into apartments. There is no institute here, but the bell sign tells us who lives here. It’s Dr. Klopp, the “director” of the “institute” which should only be written in quotation marks from now on.
The “Institute for Microcirculation” is a virtual entity.
There is no such research facility at any of its claimed addresses, and there’s little reason to assume that it has ever been.
The “institute’s” management resides at the apartment of its director, Dr. Rainer Klopp.
Dr. Klopp seems to be the “institute” in person.
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