Louisville hormone clinic 25 Again sued over diet drug

Posted: March 7, 2019 at 11:43 am

A popular hormone clinic that was accused in a lawsuit in September of causing a patients death by giving him too much testosterone has been accused in another complaint of prescribing a diet drug banned by the federal government.

In a suit filed Friday in Jefferson Circuit Court, Cindy Kinder-Benge and her husband Mark allege that a nurse at 25 Again gave her human chorionic gonadotropin, or HCG, for weight loss, without disclosing that it is ineffective for that purpose.

In a consumer update headlined HCG Diet Products Are Illegal, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration saidthe hormone is not approved and there is no evidence that it produces weight loss.

The latest suit alleges that a nurse at 25 Agains New Albany clinic provided HCG in conjunction with a 700-calorie-a-day diet, which the FDA says can be dangerous and potentially fatal.

The suitsays "multiple peer-reviewed, prospective, randomized, clinical trials dating back to 1976 have concluded that HCG is ineffective for weight loss and should not be prescribed for that purpose. This information was not shared with the plaintiff."

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Ted Ennenbach, who owns 25 Again, also known as Body Shapes Medical, said in an email that the company "promotes health" anddoes not "endorse or use" either homeopathic HCG or 700-calorie diets. He said he was out of town and hadn't seen the suit and couldn't confirm whetherKinder-Benge was a patient.

The lawsuit follows other legal trouble for the clinic. In the suit filed in September, MelanieLester said the clinic repeatedly administered testosterone to her husband David, even thoughhis levels of it were normal, eventually causing his death from a heart attack.

Two other widows have sued nurse practitioner Karla King, who previously worked in Owensboro, alleging she also gave excessive testosterone to their husbands, who had normal levels of the male hormone, resulting in their deaths.King has denied negligence.

In her complaint Friday, Kinder-Bengesaid she saw ads on TV in which the clinic said its hormone treatments could resolve symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes, and cause weight loss. She signed up for treatment at an annual rate of $2,388 plus an additional $209 for HCG.

She said blood work showed she had normal thyroid levels but a nurse nonetheless gave her additionalthyroid that caused her to experience severe chest pain and weakness due to her heart racing.

The clinic allegedly continued to tell her she needed extra thyroid, which she took for 22 months.

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The lawsuit alleges a co-worker had to take her to BaptistHealth Floyd, where she was diagnosed as suffering from atrial fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications

Last September, despite being on medication to control her irregular heartbeat, she had chest pains again and hadto be returned by ambulance to the hospital, where she was intubated, placed on a ventilator and spent several days in the intensive care unit, according to the suit.

It asks for unspecified damages for negligence, fraud, lack of informed consent and violations of consumer-protection laws.

The suit,Lesters and the Owensboro complaints werefiled by attorney Ronald Johnson, who says 25 Again prescribes and administers hormones to patients when they are not clinically indicated, do not provide any benefit, and expose patients to risk of harm and death.

The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure in June prohibited 25 Agains then-medical director, Elizabeth Bates, from practicing hormone medicine after finding her practice violated acceptable and prevailing standards of medicine.

But the agency did not ban others from the practice.

Ennenbach has said the clinic provides safe care to thousands of satisfied patients.

It is a sponsor of University of Louisville mens basketball and advertises heavily on sports talk radio, promising that patients will look younger, feel healthier and feel 25 again.

Andrew Wolfson: 502-582-7189; awolfson@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @adwolfson. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: http://www.courier-journal.com/andreww.

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Louisville hormone clinic 25 Again sued over diet drug

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