Tag Archives: hgh

N.J. taxpayers pay tab on illegal steroids

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

Without further ado, here are links to the three parts of the enormous (both in length and import) “Strong at Any Cost” series by The Star-Ledger‘s Amy Brittain and Mark Mueller. The headlines alone tell much of the story.

The duo’s work centered upon now-deceased New Jersey doctor Joseph Calao. For good reason:

A seven-month Star-Ledger investigation drawing on prescription records, court documents and detailed interviews with the physician’s employees shows Colao ran a thriving illegal drug enterprise that supplied anabolic steroids and human growth hormone to hundreds of law enforcement officers and firefighters throughout New Jersey.

From a seemingly above-board practice in Jersey City, Colao frequently broke the law and his own oath by faking medical diagnoses to justify his prescriptions for the drugs, the investigation shows.

In just over a year, records show, at least 248 officers and firefighters from 53 agencies used Colao’s fraudulent practice to obtain muscle-building drugs, some of which have been linked to increased aggression, confusion and reckless behavior.

Six of them were later the subject of lawsuits “alleging excessive force or civil rights violations” that occurred around when they’d have been taking the drugs. Others were arrested for off-duty issues. For more on Colao’s medical excuses and his conflict-ridden relationship with the pharmacy that supplied his patients, be sure to read deeper in Brittain and Mueller’s meaty story.

Other must-reads are the “Warnings Ignored” subheading, which demonstrates the national scope of steroid abuse in the law enforcement community, and “About This Series,” in which the reporters explain how they conducted their investigation.

Antiaging hormone therapies unproven, carry risks

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

In Self magazine, Harriet Brott reports on the rise of Suzanne Somers-esque hormone therapies to combat the signs of aging. Proponents treat the usual aging process as a “glandular disorder caused in part by dwindling hormones.”

Brott covers a number of trendy hormone treatments, but pays special attention to one of the most controversial such treatments: human growth hormone. Strict laws assert that hGH can’t be used for anti-aging treatment and can only be prescribed for specific groups of patients, including those with an exceedingly rare hormone deficiency. Some physicians have circumvented these rules by declaring that, as hGH naturally declines as humans get older, anyone over the age of 30 has an hGH deficiency. Experts say the supposed benefits of such therapies have not yet materialized, while the risks have made themselves all too clear.

Somehow we got the notion that aging and menopause are unnatural,” says Barbara A. Brenner, executive director of Breast Cancer Action in San Francisco. “This is an uncontrolled experiment being done on women, and anybody who thinks you can alter your body chemistry and only get positive effects doesn’t understand how chemistry works.”

Brott also traces the hGH anti-aging myth back to the sentence that started it all, investigates the booming hormone-spa industry and looks into the future (and distant, goat-related past) of anti-aging fads.