NASHVILLE, Tenn.- HRC Medical will be in court next week trying to stop the state Attorney General from shutting the entire company down, after investigators found it had been run in a "persistently fraudulent manner."
This also comes after a NewsChannel 5 investigation first exposed questionable claims about its hormone replacement therapy and various health problems experienced by patients.
On Friday though, HRC no longer has a clinic in Nashville. What was HRC's office on 14th Avenue North has been sold to former HRC employees and is known as Bella Vita Medical Center.
"Bella Vita is not HRC. We operate differently," explained Charlie Cannata.
Cannata and his wife, Susan, bought the business earlier this month, interestingly, just days before the Attorney General sued HRC seeking to shut the company down, citing a laundry list of allegations.
"There were some issues and there were some changes that needed to happen and they did happen," he conceded.
And, Cannata knows how HRC did things. He was HRC's VP of Medical Operations for its 38 centers in 21 states, while his wife was the manager of HRC's Nashville clinic. And, most of their employees now at Bella Vita also worked for HRC, while his new company is still using the same compounding pharmacy to make its hormone pellets, even though the attorney general's lawsuit claims Master Pharm has had considerable quality control problems and that HRC was aware of them.
"This is stuff that happened before, or much of it, happened before I was here" Cannata shared when asked about the various allegations made in the attorney general's lawsuit.
Now, he insisted, changes have been made.
"Our contracts are certainly different. Our salespeople are not commissioned. Our sales people are hourly paid. The disclosures are very thorough and list all of the side effects," he said.
But get this. The attorney general's lawsuit blasted HRC for failing to fully inform patients of the possible risks, and for claiming its bio-identical therapy is better than synthetic hormone therapy because it's all natural.
Yet, NewsChannel 5 Investigates took a look at how Bella Vita is "warning" its patients. The company's disclosure form says, "Some medical professionals believe hormone replacement therapy can cause heart attacks or strokes." But, it goes on to say, "Many medical professionals believe, and numerous studies support, that bio-natural hormones as used in this therapy do not carry the same risks."
"We're trying to tell both sides," Cannata stated.
He also disagrees with the Attorney General's assertion that HRC patients wound up with hormone levels that were way too high, in some cases, with testosterone levels 3-4 times higher than they should be. Cannata argues that if patients want to feel like they're 25 again, they need the testosterone level of a 25 year old, even if they're in their 50's or 60's.
NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked, "And, you don't see anything wrong with that?"
Cannata answered, "I don't see anything wrong with that. And, I don't think there's anything clinically wrong with that."
HRC's former medical director, Dan Hale, was criticized in the A.G.'s lawsuit for claiming to be an expert in hormone replacement therapy after only attending a two-day seminar.
Cannata now oversees the hormone program at Bella Vita as the Director of Medical Operations.
"I'm an R.N.," he said.
"And, what sort of training do you have in hormone replacement therapy?" NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.
"Well, I have, I did training with Dr. Hale. I've done my own research. I studied endocrinology when I was in college. That was part of the curriculum."
Cannata went on to tell NewsChannel 5 Investigates that despite the current allegations against HRC Medical, both he and his wife were satisfied customers, and he hopes HRC's patients will find they don't have to go anywhere else to get the same results.
"We want people to experience what we experienced and we want them to do it with full disclosure and full understanding."
Cannata cites various studies he says he's found to back-up what he says are the benefits of bio-identical hormone therapy. HRC made many of the same claims. But the Attorney General said those had "no credible scientific basis" and have been disputed by the FDA, the American Medical Association, and a host of other national medical groups.
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