Suspended Scottsdale doctor returns to work - East Valley Tribune: News

Suspended Scottsdale doctor returns to work

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Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2007 2:03 pm | Updated: 7:08 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A Scottsdale anti-aging doctor is back at work after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge postponed his license suspension pending a hearing today.

The Arizona Medical Board suspended Dr. Eli J. Hammer’s license Friday, saying he refused to complete a board-ordered substance abuse evaluation at the appropriate facility.

Hammer had tested positive for Xanax and is under investigation by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which in May seized patient files, a computer and human growth hormones.

Judge Robert Miles on Tuesday granted an injunction that freezes the board’s action until another judge takes up the matter today. Hammer’s attorneys will ask Judge Janet Barton to continue the order, which would allow the doctor to continue practicing pending a hearing before an administrative law judge.

“I think the judge’s preliminary review was that there would be irreparable harm if the board’s action was permitted to remain in effect,” said attorney Debbie Hill. “We are confident that we will get additional injunctive relief as we move forward.”

Hammer’s attorneys also have asked a federal judge to set aside the DEA search warrant and have his property returned.

Board spokesman Roger Downey said Hammer refused to attend one of two board-approved substance abuse facilities – the Betty Ford Center in California or Hazelden Springbrook in Oregon. The emergency suspension means the board deemed him an “imminent danger to public health and safety.”

Attorney Larry Hammond said even the board’s staff agreed the doctor was not impaired, so there was no reason for him to undergo an evaluation. He told the board he had taken the anti-anxiety drug Xanax before an international flight.

Hammer quit his longtime family practice several years ago to dedicate himself to anti-aging, advocating the use of human growth hormones, diet and exercise. He opened the Hammer Institute for Anti-Aging Medicine, at 9377 E. Bell Road, in 2000.

The use of human growth hormones to stem the natural aging process has become a hotly marketed, lucrative and controversial industry. In recent months, federal indictments have been handed down against doctors and pharmacies in several states.

Federal law prohibits the use of human growth hormones except for severe hormone deficiencies in adults and children, and AIDS. But many doctors argue that aging is a disease and growth hormones can be prescribed to battle hormone-deficient adults.

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