NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Hormone replacement therapy was a multimillion-dollar business for one Nashville company, but did high pressure sales tactics put patients at risk?
We now have an inside look at the way HRC Medical tried to entice people to sign up for its lucrative and controversial program.
The state shut down HRC for deceptive business practices after NewsChannel 5 Investigates raised questions about patients being overdosed on hormones at its Nashville clinic.
Now, a training video produced by HRC Medical for its clinics around the country has surfaced. It was supposed to teach the company's salespeople how to get patients to commit to a year's worth of hormone therapy -- without undergoing a single medical test.
Don Hale, one of the two founders of HRC Medical, appears in the nearly 12-minute video, explaining how HRC wants its salespeople to "close the deal."
"What I'm going to try to do today is give you an outline of what to do in a consult and how we want it handled," Hale said in the video.
The video was shown in court as part of the state's long running lawsuit against Don Hale and his brother Dan, who together ran the Nashville-based HRC. The Tennessee Attorney General's Office said the video was discovered recently on a laptop seized by the state.
"Find something to compliment that person about whether it be their shoes, their dress, their hair," Hale is heard saying in the video.
He goes on to show how a salesperson might ask a patient why they came to HRC and then turn around and claim that they'd recently heard the very same complaints from another patient who, after starting HRC's treatment, suddenly found all of those problems gone.
"She said it's like her and her husband are on their honeymoon again. Her relationship with her kids is just fantastic. She's able to go out and do things with them," Hale demonstrated.
This is the first real inside look at how the Hale brothers ran their company. It also seems to verify issues we first raised, that were later included in the state's lawsuit against HRC, like how patients were told they needed treatment without ever seeing a doctor and how essentially everyone, according to HRC, needed hormone therapy.
Again, this is a training video for salespeople who met with patients before they ever saw an HRC doctor.
Yet, Hale told the woman in the video, "We know your levels are very low, ok? You wouldn't be feeling the way that you are if they weren't."
Hale then looks directly into the camera and says this is when salespeople need to focus on getting the patient's money.
"The charge for that is $2,950. We make that very convenient for you. You can pay cash, check, credit. We take Visa, MasterCard, American Express, " Hale stated.
Hale stresses that it's important to not let patients get away without putting down at least a deposit, showing how to again close the deal by making it personal and hitting close to home.
"You've already told me it's affecting your relationship with your husband. Do you really think your husband won't think it's worth $2,950 to have you back like it was when you first got married?"
Don Hale showed little reaction in the courtroom as the video played, but afterwards Judge Amanda McClendon compared it to a listening to someone try to sell a timeshare.
"I could just as easily after watching that video have been sitting through a sales pitch for a vacation thing," the judge said.
Patients told NewsChannel 5 Investigates during our initial investigation that HRC never warned them when they signed up about the health risks they could face. The state makes similar claims in its lawsuit.
And in this training video, there is no mention of the possible health problems.
The state filed its lawsuit in the fall of 2012. A year and a half later, there's no end in sight. Both sides are still wrangling in court. They haven't set a trial date yet.
The earliest that could happen is at the end of this year.