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Dr. William Borkon, a Park Nicollet urologist who wasn’t part of the complaint, said he, too, has recently treated patients for priapism after they took injections. He said the urology community is troubled by the clinics because they default to injectable drugs for men whose impotency might have psychological origins or require other treatments.
“People need to be careful not to be misled,” he said.
Lund said the Men’s Clinic, which opened locally in April 2013, offers medications based on patients’ preferences for up to one year, and only after a test in the office to determine their effectiveness.
“If the medication does not work in the office, we do not charge the patient for the visit, nor would we ever prescribe a treatment plan based on the medicine not working,” he said.
The injectable medications include papaverine, phentolamine and alprostadil — which can be mixed in different strengths and injected with small-gauge needles into the side of the penis. They were commonly used by urologists before the advent of Viagra in 1998 and similar medications afterward, and remain available as second-line treatments for impotence, Kemberling said.
The Men’s Clinic in Bloomington is part of a national practice, one of 14 clinics operated by Men’s Medical Clinic LLC. It is staffed locally by Dr. Richard Beck, 80, who is trained in general and plastic surgery, but was founded in Florida by Dr. Kevin Hornsby, according to the clinic website.
Hornsby has positioned his practice as a source of alternative care for men who don’t have success with Viagra or other pills. He self-published an online book on the treatment of erectile dysfunction. His group of doctors — many in their 70s and practicing in second careers outside their specialties — includes one board-certified urologist.
The Better Business Bureau has 19 complaints on file from men who used the Men’s Clinics in various states. Reviews on other websites reveal men who felt duped, but also some who wrote favorable reviews.
Lund stressed that the clinic works closely with patients to adjust medication dosages and avoid priapism.
Kemberling said patients should talk with their urologists or family doctors before going to such a clinic, and find out if their health plans cover treatment for erectile dysfunction.
A similar controversy surfaced in 2008, when Urology Associates complained about patients having complications after impotency treatments by Parnell Medical Group, which had set up an Edina clinic. Parnell has since closed, as did a similar clinic in Woodbury that was opened in 2011 by a St. Paul man who owns a Twin Cities plumbing business.
Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744