Attorney General Concerned About HRC’s Former Patients
By Jennifer Kraus
NASHVILLE, Tenn.-- Tennessee's attorney general said he's prepared to contact every patient in the state who got hormone replacement therapy from Nashville-based HRC Medical.
This comes as the attorney general has gone to court to shut down the entire company. It comes after NewsChannel 5 Investigates first exposed problems with HRC's hormone therapy nearly a year ago.
In addition, the AG is so concerned that he wants every patient who went to the HRC clinics in Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville to talk with their primary care physicians about the possible long-term health problems they could face -- including endometrial cancer and breast cancer.
"It's frightening," said former HRC patient Susan Moerschel.
Moerschel, who underwent hormone replacement therapy at HRC for a year, was stunned to hear now that the state attorney general has gone to court to shut down HRC Medical in order to "protect consumers."
The 160-page complaint filed Monday accuses HRC and its owners of running the company in a "persistently fraudulent manner" and repeatedly making "false and misleading statements" about its heavily promoted hormone replacement therapy.
The complaint also confirmed what NewsChannel 5 Investigates first reported back in November of last year, that HRC gave patients substantially more testosterone than they needed.
"I kinda grew a moustache," Moerschel shared.
She said she experienced what she described as extreme side effects from the therapy. She grew facial hair and her menopause symptoms went away.
"Some of the things that my body had gone through and I was kinda glad to see go away, came back and are still back," she said.
The attorney general says HRC patients were never told or fully informed of the potential adverse health risks.
According to the AG, Dr. Dan Hale, the company's former medical director, and other HRC managers told the company's salespeople not to mention the specific risks or side effects associated with the therapy because "we'll never have anybody come in here."
Perhaps most concerning is that the Tennessee Attorney General's Office now wants all of HRC's patients who took its hormone therapy to see their primary care physicians as soon as possible.
Many HRC patients have shared the same sort of experience during their visits to HRC. Susan Moerschel is one of them.
"How often did you see a doctor?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.
"I did not."
And, according to the complaint, HRC employees routinely falsified patients' medical records to make it appear that doctors had reviewed the charts, frequently signing the files themselves, even though they had no medical training whatsoever.
It's been more than a year now since Moerschel had any of HRC's hormone pellets implanted, pellets that she said she was told were safe.
"To find out that it's not necessarily true -- I don't know how much of that may be in my system."
Now, she admitted, she's worried.
The attorney general wants HRC ordered to pay customers who have suffered losses. The AG also wants the state to revoke Dr. Hale's medical license.
And the state wants to liquidate the company, essentially shutting down all of HRC's clinics -- in all nearly three dozen of them in 22 states.
That could be a long legal process. So, in the meantime, the AG wants the court to issue a temporary restraining order against HRC.
This case was just filed Monday. And while the attorney general asked for an immediate, essentially an emergency, hearing to consider its request in the interest of public safety, a court clerk employee said that a date for that hearing has not been set yet.
HRC Medical's attorney did not return NewsChannel 5 Investigates' calls.
- Nov. 10, 2011: Some HRC Patients Complain of Hormone Side Effects
- Jan. 17, 2012: Lawmakers To Consider New Regulations For Hormone Therapy
- Mar. 13, 2012: State Attorney General Investigates HRC Medical
- May 24, 2012: New Law Follows NewsChannel 5 Investigation
- October 8, 2012: Attorney General Seeks Closure Of HRC Medical