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Mixed Message on Steroids

Is it “cutting-age therapy” to prescribe hormone replacement therapy and steroids as treatment for age-related troubles? Is it “telemedicine” to prescribe such drugs over the phone or Internet, without a face-to-face visit? While the Florida Board of Medicine and the Florida Legislature both wrestle with such issues, prosecutors continue testing the theories in court.

Last week, a West Palm Beach jury found a physician and a pharmacist “not guilty” of alleged drug dealing, But Monday, five doctors who had done the same kind of work in the same region were sentenced to prison by a federal judge. the Palm Beach Post reports.

“It’s always mind-boggling and astounding that people with such intelligence and backgrounds for some reason end up taking the wrong fork in the road. It’s always sad because their lives are destroyed,” U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra said during Monday’s sentencing of the doctors who all worked at anti-aging clinics in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.

Last week’s acquittal of Dr. Timothy Sigman and pharmacist Peter Del Toro, had something the latest convictions did not. They hired lawyers and went through a three-month trial, capped by 30  hours of jury deliberations, as  the Palm Beach Postreported last week.

Acquittals are rare in such prosecutions, which is why most defendants plead guilty in return for a break on sentencing. All five doctors who were sentenced on Monday pleaded guilty.

Originally founded in December 2006 as an independent grassroots publication dedicated to coverage of health issues in Florida, Health News Florida was acquired by WUSF Public Media in September 2012.