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Biogenesis Scandal: Florida Bill Would Regulate Booming Anti-Aging Industry

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Last month, faux doctor Tony Bosch at last faced the music for running a freewheeling steroid clinic from a storefront on bustling South Dixie Highway in Coral Gables. He’ll spend four years in federal prison for posing as a doctor and selling roids and HGH to scores of athletes, bodybuilders, and even high-schoolers.

And when he gets out and returns to society, he’ll still have every legal right in Florida to open another clinic.

That is unless legislators in Tallahassee act to finally shut down a gaping loophole that lets hundreds of so-called anti-aging clinics like Biogenesis operate with virtually no state oversight. A new bill sparked by the Biogenesis scandal would do just that — but similar legislation died in Tally last year before making it to a full vote.

“These clinics can be operating and not telling the truth about their qualifications to dispense very potent drugs,” says Florida Sen. Eleanor Sobel, who cosponsored the new bill, SB 486. “We have no clue where they are, who they are, or what they’re dispensing.”

Under Florida law, clinics that accept payments only in cash and refuse insurance payouts — as Biogenesis did — aren’t regulated by Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration.

The state also lacks any rules about who can open anti-aging clinics, meaning anyone — even felons like Bosch — can legally open one. They aren’t even required to list a licensed physician as a medical director. A 2013 New Times investigation found more than 540 such clinics statewide, including multiple businesses owned by felons.

Sobel is hopeful her bill will fare better than 2014’s version. The new bill, called the Health Care Clinic Act, is cosponsored by a veteran Republican from the Panhandle, Sen. Don Gaetz. (A house companion has been filed by Democratic Rep. Kristin Jacobs from Coconut Creek.)

“I think the senate will pass it,” Sobel says. “It’s a very, very important bill. It’s a glitch in the statutes that we can easily fix.”

The senate bill awaits a hearing next week in the Health Policy Committee.

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