Lawmakers To Consider New Regulations For Hormone Therapy
By Jennifer Kraus
NASHVILLE, Tenn.- State lawmakers will soon consider new rules for hormone replacement therapy. This comes after a NewsChannel 5 investigation recently exposed how patients of the Nashville-based HRC Medical discovered they'd been given too many hormones and were never seen by a doctor. Now a state lawmaker from Cheatham County thinks this growing industry needs more and better oversight. And, for him, the issue is personal.
Like a lot of folks, state representative Phillip Johnson, a Republican from Pegram, had seen the ads that claim hormone replacement therapy can cure practically whatever ails you.
So when his wife wanted to give it a try, Johnson was all for it. But, he says she wound up experiencing serious side effects after being given too much testosterone.
Johnson told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "Some of her hormone levels had gotten too high."
"Off the charts?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.
"Pretty much," was his answer.
And our investigation late last year exposed how this same thing has happened to others who also went to . the Nashville-based HRC Medical and wound up overdosed on hormones.
One former HRC patient told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "I was losing hair like there was no tomorrow."
Another patient told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "My voice is deeper and I have hair, stubble on my chin and my upper lip."
And we found patient after patient who complained that they rarely, if ever, saw a doctor there.
The Cheatham County lawmaker told NewsChannel 5 Investigates, "I want you to be able to walk into a place of this type and know you're safe."
That's why Johnson pushed so hard to get House Joint Resolution 104 passed, calling on the state Medical and Nursing Boards to take a look at the growing hormone replacement therapy industry and come up with some sort of standard of care.
The Boards' Task Force recently heard from a Vanderbilt nurse who said her clinic has seen countless patients from HRC who have been given too many hormones or who shouldn't have been given them in the first place.
And just last week, the group approved a policy statement that calls for medical professionals to physically examine their patients before prescribing hormones and carefully monitor them once they begin treatment. It also says patients must be warned of the possible risks.
The task force also expressed concerns about some of the claims made in ads for hormone replacement therapy.
Don Hale, the owner of HRC, sat in the back of the board room listening. After the meeting, he hurried out of the room and refused to talk with NewsChannel 5 Investigates about what was said or how the policy statement might change the way they do things at his company.
Representative Phillip Johnson though is hopeful that what he's doing will make a difference.
"So that you have a good, safe experience. We didn't. And, apparently there are a lot of others like us," he says.
Johnson is now working on legislation that will likely incorporate the task force's recommendations. He expects hearing on the issue will start in the next few weeks.