A controversial male impotency clinic has closed following complaints about its prescribing practices and the suspension of its lone Minnesota doctor by the state’s medical licensing board.
The closure of the Minneapolis Men’s Medical Clinic left patients frustrated — some because they lost their supplier of injectable medication that rejuvenated their sex lives, others because they felt swindled when they bought thousands of dollars worth of medication for erectile dysfunction that didn’t work.
“It would work at their office, and then when they sent the stuff home with me, it wasn’t working,” said Dan, 64, who owes $2,600 to the financing company that the clinic set him up with to afford a mass order of the medication.
Doctors with Urology Associates are nonetheless glad the clinic has closed; the Edina-based specialty practice complained to the Minnesota Attorney General this summer after reports of clinic patients ending up in hospital emergency rooms with painful, medically induced erections. The urologists alleged that clinic patients received inadequate follow-up care when they were sent home to inject the medication into their penises on their own.
“You have to have a certain standard of care,” said Dr. Karl Kemberling, a urologist with the practice. “You have to take care of your patients.”
The Men’s Clinic fought the allegations, claiming the urology group was simply dishing dirt on a competitor, but then the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice suspended its lone doctor in September while investigating claims of inappropriate prescribing and false advertising.
Another clinic patient, Troy, hadn’t experienced serious complications after agreeing to buy more than $1,000 in injectable medications to treat the impotency he said resulted from other medical problems. Once, it left him with a prolonged erection after sex, but a recommended dose of Sudafed addressed that.
So it was frustrating to receive a postcard late last month indicating that the clinic located in Bloomington had closed. When he called the Florida headquarters of the Men’s Medical Clinic chain, he was told he could always visit the nearest clinic in Michigan.
“Maybe if I had more money,” Troy lamented.
Other men interviewed by the Star Tribune said the medication resulted in a condition known as priapism, in which an erection lasts longer than four hours and emergency treatment sometimes requires the use of a needle to withdraw clotted blood from the penis.
This is at least the second men’s clinic focusing on injectable medications that has come and gone from the Twin Cities, as the desire among older males to remain sexually active has fueled a new medical marketplace. While pills such as Viagra and Cialis are the front-line treatments, the Men’s Medical Clinic has expanded to 10 states by selling variations of older, injectable drugs that fell out of favor due to the complex way they are administered.
Newly remarried, Dan said frequent ads on sports radio enticed him to try the clinic, which opened in April 2013, even though as a Vietnam veteran he could have gone to the Minneapolis veterans’ hospital for urologic care.
“I guess I should have done that right away,” he said.
Dan is haggling with the Men’s Medical Clinic and the financing company for a refund, but isn’t optimistic. (Both Dan and Troy shared their experiences on condition that their full names not be published.)
Brad McGill of St. Louis Park said he was fired as a salesman at the clinic earlier this year after complaining to the owner about the way vulnerable men were locked into expensive orders. The clinic offered a money-back guarantee on a trial dose, he said, but then signed men to contracts committing them to thousands of dollars of injectable medications and sometimes financing deals with high interest rates.
“They were always pushing to make a bigger sale,” he said.
A message left with the corporate office of the Men’s Medical Clinic in Florida wasn’t returned on Monday.
Kemberling said the clinic flourished because many urologists don’t focus their practices on the sexual health needs of male patients. But the trouble with a clinic that primarily pushes a single, injectable solution is that it ignores some of the other physical and mental health origins of erectile dysfunction.
His group is now considering a men’s clinic of its own in Minnetonka that will work with doctors from other specialties to treat the broad causes of sexual dysfunction.
“When you have clinics like that and you have guys that are desperate,” Kemberling said, “that really exposes the need for some of these men’s health services.”