Attorney General Moves To Shut Down Hormone Clinic
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Attorney General is now moving to shut down Bella Vita Medical Center, the former HRC Medical clinic in Nashville.
This comes two years after NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed problems patients suffered from HRC's hormone replacement therapy, and after the state sued HRC last year trying to put the company out of business.
That lawsuit has just been amended and what is new is the focus on the Nashville clinic.
Bella Vita Medical Center and the man behind it, Charles Cannata, have been added to the state's lawsuit. The state says after HRC's Nashville office changed hands, Bella Vita did exactly what HRC had done and put thousands of patients' lives in danger.
We first met Cannata a little more than a year ago after he and his wife, Susan, bought what was then the HRC Medical clinic in Nashville, just as the state Attorney General was trying to shut down HRC.
Cannata told NewsChannel5 Investigates then, "Bella Vita is not HRC. We operate differently."
Both Cannatas had long worked for HRC. Susan was the manager of the Nashville clinic and Charlie had most recently been HRC's VP of Medical Operations. Cannata insisted after buying the Nashville office that they were making major changes.
But according to the state's amended lawsuit, other than the name, little actually changed and that Bella Vita and Cannata made many of the same deceptive claims as HRC.
The A.G. said like HRC, Bella Vita failed to warn patients about the potential dangers and side effects of their hormone replacement therapy and both have claimed their bio-identical HRT is better and safer than traditional therapies.
The new lawsuit also details how HRC Medical and Bella Vita both were highly aggressive in pursuing customers by offering "free" consultations and having customers sign sales contracts before ever seeing a doctor or nurse or even having their blood drawn to determine if they needed additional hormones.
It was our investigation that first showed how HRC patients ended up with unusually high levels of hormones. And now the state says like HRC, Bella Vita gave patients "mega-doses" of hormones so women wound up with testosterone levels the same as men and men wound up with testosterone levels two to three times what they should have had, much like former HRC patients who told us they suffered extreme side effects.
Cannata told us in October 2012 that was all wrong.
"Much has been said about overdosing and that stems from a real misunderstanding of hormone replacement therapy," he explained.
Cannata maintained then that patients were not overdosed at all, but rather those even in their 50s, 60's and older had their hormone levels returned to what they'd had when they were in their 20's.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked him, "And, you don't see anything wrong with that?"
Cannata responded, "I don't see anything wrong with that. And, I don't think there's anything clincally wrong wtih that."
The amended lawsuit doesn't specifically ask the court to shut Bella Vita down. But, prosecutors do want its patients' contracts to be declared null and void and Bella Vita to be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars which would likely have the same result.
None of these issues though will likely be resolved anytime soon. We're told the case won't go to trial for at least another year. In the meantime, Bella Vita can remain open. HRC's other clinics in Tennessee have both closed while most of the other clinices in 20 other states have closed as well.