Dr. Jesse Haggard, the former clinical director of Revolution Medical Centers, will voluntarily surrender to federal agents in Florida on Friday, October 2, 2009. Haggard will be taken into custody at the Orlando International Airport and transported to Alabama where he faces steroid distribution charges.
Dr. Haggard was indicted as part of the Applied Pharmacy Services criminal investigation announced in January 2009. The government has accused Haggard of prescribing anabolic steroids “outside the usual course of professional practice” and “not for legitimate medical purposes”. However, unlike other doctors similarly prosecuted, Haggard had an indisputable doctor-patient relationship with all of his patients that included comprehensive laboratory testing; Haggard never prescribed anabolic steroids over the internet or to any patients not evaluated during an in-person medical examination.
The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) had classified Dr. Haggard as a fugitive after it was suspected that he had left the country. Haggard had, in fact, travelled to Costa Rica, where he has since resided, in an effort to buy time for the preparation of a thorough and meticulous defense of his medical practice (”Turning Point,” September 17).
I left the US in order to have time, resources (like a computer and internet access) and limited distractions (such as media, law officials or medical board officials) to build a very organized case that justified my previous actions, of prescribing steroids to patients, beyond doubt to everyone. This was intended to be temporary.”
Also, since the DEA took more than 3 years to produce these charges based on prescriptions from 2005, Haggard did not think the situation had great urgency.
In a recent email, Dr. Haggard explained the additional burden of proving his case in a climate of hysteria.
“I knew I needed to prove beyond doubt, in a context of steroid hysteria, that I had legitimate medical purpose and that the therapies were safe. I feel the evidence and logic promoting steroids is a landslide when viewing all of the evidence, especially when coupled with clinical observation.”
Dr. Haggard had previously condemned the government’s witch-hunt against him in his book “Demystifying Steroids“. The well-documented book provided an impassioned defense of the therapeutic use of anabolic steroids in his medical practice. While in Costa Rica, Haggard explained his motivations for writing the book in his blog:
I had written and published what I considered to be ironclad support for the appropriate medical use of steroids, eight months ago. I predicted the book would change the minds, hearts and practice of the general public, patients, health care practitioners, policy makers and law enforcement officials. I wrote the book to serve as a manual for the public to learn about the possible benefits of steroids and to aid patients that identified similarities with their own health and the cases I presented in the book to intelligently approach their practitioners about steroids. Furthermore, I wrote the second half of the book for practitioners to see the research and help them feel comfortable about prescribing steroids when appropriate.
Haggard has been an outspoken critic of the sensationalistic media, specifically the “investigative reporting” team at the local ABC affiliate. Dr. Haggard’s ability to practice medicine and subsequently defend himself against legal accusations was considerably hampered by the irresponsible reporting of ABC15’s Josh Bernstein. Bernstein blatantly promoted propaganda and hysteria (”Please Avoid the Media,” September 17).
[T]he media has done a great job at misrepresenting the truth and reality of specific events, especially Josh Bernstein from ABC 15 news in Phoenix, Arizona. He wanted to interview me in the past, but he would not agree to a live interview. He self proclaims to have a reputation for getting results, but in my experience is he has a reputation for glamorizing inaccurately negative and meaningless results. Every story he reports on seems to focus and result in destroying other people. […]
Josh Bernstein has missed the more meaningful story of this entire situation. The story that has the potential to positively impact millions of people’s lives is that anabolic steroids do not have near the adverse effect risks that they were originally thought that to have and that anabolic steroids have amazing healing potential.
Dr. Jesse Haggard has made considerable progress in the preparation of his legal defense medical rationale. Now that this has been largely accomplished, Haggard has decided to abandon his temporary status as a fugitive and surrender himself to U.S. authorities. His desire on the eve of his surrender is to spread the following simple message to general public, health care providers, law enforcement officers and policymakers:
“Medical research clearly shows steroids are not as dangerous as there originally thought to be and steroids have impressive potential for improving health and preventing disease. Thus, medical practitioners should consider prescribing them more freely and without as much restraint.”