Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Anti-ageing clinics push human growth hormone -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Last night, Lateline revealed loopholes in the regulation of the
performance enhancing drug human growth hormone that's allowing it to be freely supplied by
doctors. One competitive body builder said it was easier to obtain than steroids and there were a
number of places on the Gold Coast alone where he could get it.

Tonight, Lateline takes a closer look at the anti-ageing clinic which champion the use of human
growth hormone, although they deny supplying it for performance enhancing purposes.

Conor Duffy and John Stewart produced this story.

CONOR DUFFY, REPORTER: On the Gold Coast, the glamorous outdoor surf culture of the young and
vibrant lives side by side with the areas' enormous greying population.

For many, Surfers Paradise is all about what's on the surface, so it's hardly surprising that some
of those in their sunset years are going to extraordinary lengths to stretch out their glory days.

Bob Byatt is 84, but is fighting the idea of growing old. Every two days he goes through this
routine, injecting himself with human growth hormone.

BOB BYATT, HUMAN GROWTH HORMONE USER: Well, it must be doing something for me because, as you can
see, I don't have any wrinkles or what have you.

CONOR DUFFY: And like many other human growth hormone users, Bob Byatt came into contact with the
drug at one of the anti-ageing clinics that have sprung up on the Gold Coast. Businessman Alan
Jovich claims he set up the first Australian anti-ageing clinic seven years ago, inspired by a trip
to Palm Springs in Nevada where he went on a program that included the human growth hormone.

ALAN YOVICH, ANTI-AGEING CLINIC OWNER: I'm living proof that it is working for me. I mean, I feel
fantastic. I'm not, I'm not crook. you know, everybody always says to me, "God, Alan, you're
looking good." I don't know whether they're telling my fibs or not, but I feel fantastic anyway.

CONOR DUFFY: The 65-year-old believes the smorgasbord of drugs he takes every week has wound his
body clock back 10 years. He says the key ingredient is human growth hormone.

ALAN YOVICH: It can to stop you getting forms of disease, because when your hormone levels drop, I
believe that gives your body the chance to start to causing problems.

CONOR DUFFY: It's a claim the mainstream medical profession is sceptical of. Endocrinologists and
the head of the AMA have told Lateline the drug can cause conditions like diabetes, cancer and the
disfigurement of the head and bones.

ALISON REID, NSW MEDICAL BOARD: This whole kind of area of single issue clinics is a big issue for
the board. It seems to be the way medical practice is heading and it's not something that we're
terribly happy about. Clinics that set themselves up to deal with an issue in isolation seem to be
fundamentally flawed.

CONOR DUFFY: Mr Jovich has hit back, saying that all patients have regular blood tests and are
carefully monitored. He says the clinic sells the drug responsibly and often knocks back young body
builders trying to get the drugs.

ALAN YOVICH: We've had no problems. I mean, I've been doing human growth hormone for 10 years. I
haven't got a big head. I have regular blood tests. Everything's coming out fine.

CONOR DUFFY: Do you think there's any ethical problems with being in a field that the mainstream
medical profession is so sceptical of?

ALAN YOVICH: Well, you know, that's quite a controversial sort of question, but I mean I could
answer that two or three different ways. But all I'm just saying is maybe they're just looking
after their own backyard.

CONOR DUFFY: The doctor at Mr Jovich's clinic is Michael Tait who he says is another pioneer of the
anti-ageing industry. Mr Tait owns his own clinic in another part of the Gold Coast.

ALAN YOVICH: It was there four years ago that Bob Byatt was sold on the virtues of HGH.

BOB BYATT: All I can say is thank God for Dr Tait. Yeah. He's the bloke that got me on it and he's
the bloke that's gonna keep me on it as far as I'm concerned. God bless him.

I don't think I'd be worth two bob without the growth hormone. I don't. Yeah. I can safely
recommend it to anybody. It's done me no harm.

CONOR DUFFY: Bob Byatt says Dr Tait has provided him with the drug for free for the past few years
and even gives him the syringes. He says he phoned Dr Tait on the day Lateline arrived to film and
ordered more HGH.

BOB BYATT: I said, "I'm down to one tube." He said, "Well, you know it's always here for you."
Yeah. So, he's been a wonderful friend to me.

CONOR DUFFY: Do you know why he's so generous. I imagine that must be very expensive?

BOB BYATT: Well, I don't know. It's just his way, you know.

CONOR DUFFY: But for those who pay for HGH, it's not cheap. A typical treatment of the drug costs
between $200 and $400 a week.

While Dr Tait is revered by some of his former patients, he has previously been in trouble with
medical authorities for not following the rule when prescribing human growth hormone. Two years
ago, Dr Tait was convicted of obtaining and selling human growth hormone. He's also now facing
deregistration from the Queensland Medical Board for prescribing natural therapies to terminally
ill cancer patients. After those problems, his old Fountain of Life clinic was forced to close.
However, he's now set up a new practice called Life4Ever right next door to his old clinic.

The Medical Board says Dr Tait a health practitioners' tribunal some time before October when it
will be decided whether he can continue to practice medicine.

In a statement, the Board says it has received a number of complaints about Dr Tate's
unconventional treatments for cancer patients. Among them, the late soccer legend Johnny Warren. Dr
Tait refuses to discuss those allegations.

I was just wondering if I could ask you a couple of quick questions?

MICHAEL TAIT, ANTI-AGEING CLINIC OWNER: You can ask, but I'm not really going to answer 'cos I'm
off to the surgery.

CONOR DUFFY: We spoke with one of your former patients yesterday, Bob Byatt ...


CONOR DUFFY: .. who spoke very highly of you. And he said you were providing him with human growth
hormone and really looking after him. Is that right?

MICHAEL TAIT: Yes. That's right, yes.

CONOR DUFFY: During the court proceedings against Dr Tait, it was revealed he'd sold the drug to a
professional body builder. It's his controversial cancer treatments though that have endangered his
right to practice.

And what about some of your other - your pending with the Queensland Medical Board? Do you ...

MICHAEL TAIT: I'm not commenting on that.

CONOR DUFFY: Are you confident you'll be cleared?

MICHAEL TAIT: I am not commenting on it at all.

CONOR DUFFY: You have set up a new clinic here, so you must have, you know, be fairly confident.

MICHAEL TAIT: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Slowly getting on with the excitement of life.

CONOR DUFFY: Right, so you can't do a proper interview with us?

MICHAEL TAIT: Not really, no.

CONOR DUFFY: How come? Why not?

MICHAEL TAIT: All the best. Bye.

CLINIC EMPLOYEE: Thankyou. I'm sorry. If you want to talk to the doctor, please make an

CONOR DUFFY: It's understood Dr Tait will fight the charges when he appears before the Medical

The owner of the Australian life enhancement clinic Alan Jovich says Dr Tait is bringing an
increased quality of life to patients by using growth hormone.

ALAN YOVICH: Anti-ageing doctors, we say we age because hormone levels drop. That's what causes you
to age. It's like a seagull: they don't have our problems. They don't have hormone problems. They
fly around and old ones still keep up with the young ones and they've been known to live for 100
years. And they fly around and all of a sudden they just drop into the sea. They could be 90 years
old. They could be up to 100 years old. But they still do the same things. Sometimes I wish I was a
seagull, but, hey, we're doing our best.

CONOR DUFFY: The average life expectancy for a seagull is 10 to 15 years and this is how the AMA
responded to claims that the drug would reverse or slow down the ageing process.

ROSANNA CAPOLINGUA, PRESIDENT, AMA: The use of human growth hormone probably gives you a better
looking corpse at the end of the day but the focused localised sort of specialty areas that are
really responding to market demands and to trends are not what we believe to be the best delivery
of medicine to a patient.

CONOR DUFFY: The Health Minister Nicola Roxon is yet to respond to the AMA's calls for greater
regulation of the sale of human growth hormone.

Conor Duffy, Lateline.