New Law Follows NewsChannel 5 Investigation

CREATED May 24, 2012

by Jennifer Kraus

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Tennessee has a new law that will regulate hormone replacement clinics in the state. It comes after a NewsChannel 5 investigation. Late last year, NewsChannel 5 Investigates exposed how patients at the Nashville based HRC Medical had overdosed on hormones. Thursday, state lawmakers approved a measure that aims to protect patients at clinics like HRC.

The measure had already been approved by the Senate. All it needed was approval by the full House.

The legislation targets clinics that focus on hormone replacement therapy, like HRC Medical in Nashville. And, it aims to address some of the problems our investigation into HRC first exposed late last year, like how some patients say they were given way too much testosterone, experienced extreme side effects, and rarely, if ever, saw a doctor.

Representative Phillip Johnson, a Republican from Pegram and sponsor of the bill, says his wife also suffered serious health problems as a patient at HRC. And, soon after, Johnson says, he discovered there were no real regulations in place for this sort of treatment.

Johnson told NewsChannel5 Investigates, "Our personal experience did make it important to me. But, it was about doing the right thing for everybody."

In fact, Johnson says the longer he worked on the bill, the more horror stories he heard from former hormone replacement patients.

"Yes, lots. And, actually after they started seeing the reports on TV, people started coming out of the woodwork and giving us good information. (They told us) how they never saw a physician. When they started experiencing trouble, they didn't get the proper care or physician attention and that really helped us craft the oversight and supervision of this bill," Johnson explained.

Now, under Johnson's bill, a physician must either administer the therapy himself or supervise it. And all patients must have a physical exam and give a full medical history before they start any therapy, while they must also understand the possible side effects.

The vote in the House was 92 ayes, 0 nays.

When the bill previously went before the Senate, the vote was also unanimous.

"Thanks to a lot of your investigative reporting and a lot of good information from all of the parties involved, we crafted a good bill that can protect our patients, consumers of the healthcare, hormone replacement therapy and be a little better than where we were," Johnson said.

All the measure needs now before it officially becomes law is the governor's signature. Once that happens, the new law will take effect July first.

Also, under the new law, the supervising physician must be notified immediately when any complications from the therapy are discovered. In the past, patients have complained that they could not reach a doctor after they experienced serious side effects.

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