ST. PETERSBURG — William Perry claimed that his silver elixir called APeX was a miracle drug that could cure HIV, cancer and diabetes, police said.
On his Web site, he bragged about successful clinical trials "that shows potent activity against HIV/AIDS and Cancer with no Serious Adverse Events recorded with over 400 patients."
The price? Just $150 for a 30-day supply. Take it for 120 days, Perry said, and you'll have a negative HIV test.
Perry's claims were too good to be true.
On Tuesday, he was arrested on four felony charges of practicing medicine without a license after an investigation by St. Petersburg police and the Florida Department of Health.
Police say the APeX miracle cure that Perry was peddling was junk, and mostly contained a silver colloid, a substance used to coat surgical instruments. It does not cure any serious diseases, as Perry claimed. People who drink too much can turn blue.
Despite representing himself as a doctor, Perry does not have a medical degree. He is a former certified nursing assistant.
Perry, 56, of Wesley Chapel could not be reached for comment.
Authorities began investigating after receiving a tip from a former patient who has since died for reasons unrelated to APeX. Authorities arrested Perry after he prescribed APeX to undercover investigators four times.
Before he began his forays into medical research, Perry racked up several arrests for driving under the influence and violating probation. In 2005, state records show, he was arrested in Broward County on his third DUI charge in 10 years.
Perry filed for bankruptcy twice in 2007. In his most recent bankruptcy filing, he said he made $3,491 a month but was still falling behind on mortgage payments on his $200,000 house and property taxes.
Perry founded a not-for-profit called Thrift International in 2007, which he said would solicit money for HIV education and prevention. The same year, he opened a business in St. Petersburg called Health Education and Safety First at 710 94th Ave. N, Suite 305.
Police say Perry marketed claims about his wonder elixir aggressively at several local gay bars and events.
William Chastain, a member of the board of Thrift International, said he joined the organization after hearing about Perry through a mutual friend.
When told of Perry's arrest, Chastain said he was supportive of Perry's research. "I know that (APeX) has had some people who have indirectly indicated that they have had great benefit from it," Chastain said.
Police say it is unclear just how many patients Perry may have had. They executed a search warrant on his business Tuesday and are still going through records.
A disclaimer at the bottom of Perry's home page says APeX is not intended to diagnose, treat prevent or cure any disease, despite the pages of other claims on the Web site.
Police say that Perry backtracked on the claims he made to undercover investigators after his arrest, saying APeX wasn't a successful cure for illnesses.
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy and Times staff writer Helen Anne Travis contributed to this report. Reach Abhi Raghunathan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8472.