The Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) is advising the public that the company operating until recently as HRC Medical Center, Inc., a St. Louis Park clinic offering bio-identical hormone replacement therapy, has changed their name to New Leaf Wellness, PLLC. This change occurred in the days leading up to the Attorney General’s Office (AG) in Tennessee filing suit against HRC Medical Center, seeking closure of all their branches across the country: nearly three dozen clinics – including the St. Louis Park location. The company is fighting the lawsuit which is set for trial in mid-November.
In their suit, the Tennessee AG argues that HRC should be shut down immediately because “it’s endangered the health of consumers without their knowledge, significantly impaired the quality of life for an untold number of consumers, and caused widespread economic loss.” On October 10, a Tennessee judge issued a temporary restraining order against HRC requested by the Tennessee Attorney General. Shortly thereafter, the company’s headquarters location in Nashville was sold to former HRC employees and changed its name to Bella Vita Medical Center. On September 14, the Minnesota HRC location registered a new name with the Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office – New Leaf Wellness, PLLC, and is now operating in the same offices formerly occupied by HRC Medical Center, and placing newspaper ads identical to those run previously by HRC.
“We find the timing of these name changes to be interesting, to say the least,” said Dana Badgerow, President and CEO of the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “People who are considering this treatment should be aware of the lawsuit in Tennessee, as well as the company’s track record of handling customer concerns. They should also make sure they understand the potential risks involved.”
In March of 2011, the Nashville BBB met with the management of HRC Medical headquarters in Tennessee to discuss a pattern of customer complaints that the BBB had identified. Specifically, complaints alleged the hormone therapy caused side effects, such as facial and body hair, voice changes, and other physical appearance changes. In response to the pattern of complaints, the company stated, “We have put forth our best efforts to accommodate the high demand for bio-identical hormone replacement, however, HRC Medical can 100% guarantee that a patient’s targeted hormone levels will improve; however, symptom improvement is subject to each patient. Like all medical procedures, this is not an exact science; therefore, HRC Medical cannot guarantee results.”
The Nashville BBB has awarded the company a rating of F, the same rating the BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota has given to the St. Louis Park location, due to their failure to substantiate claims made in the course of a secret shopping performed by the BBB. While HRC Medical Center did respond to the BBB’s request for substantiation, the BBB determined the information provided did not substantiate the claims made to the secret shopper during an initial consultation and sales presentation. Specifically, the BBB requested documentation to support the claims that bio-identical hormone treatment would reverse ‘bone density loss by 18%’; provide general health benefits, was safe, and was guaranteed.
The BBB urges consumers to consult with their primary care physician before taking part in any supplemental hormone replacement therapy which is not FDA approved.
Additional information about bio-identical hormones can be found on the US Food and Drug Administration’s website at www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm049311.htm.