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Are Stem Cell Clinics More Dangerous Than Helpful?

For many years, experts all over the country have been asking the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to step in and stop a questionable yet widespread medical practice. However, for-profit clinics have spread all over the country dealing in what some would call “snake-oil” treatments to cure untreatable illnesses. Now the government agency has taken steps to stop these stem cell clinics, but for some this help comes too late.

How Have Stem Cell Clinics Hurt Patients?

In Florida, three elderly women went to a stem cell clinic to get treatments for macular degeneration. These treatments were meant to recover the eyesight of these women, but instead two of the women found their sight worsened and one was completely blinded. Researchers chided the clinic that performed the procedures, saying that there wasn’t enough evidence to prove such treatments safe. Those experts asked the FDA to intervene, however, the clinic claimed the agency didn’t have authority to.

Since the Florida clinic had used the stem cells from patients instead of drugs, the clinic claimed the FDA had no reason to intervene—the agency didn’t agree. On August 25th, The FDA took action against the Florida clinic saying that clinic was selling “dangerously dubious” and “unproven” products and services. Included in the agency’s crackdown were two stem cell clinics here in California.

Is California Involved in this Stem Cell Crackdown?

StemImmune Inc. in San Diego and California Stem Cell Treatment Centers in Rancho Mirage and Beverly Hills received warning letters from the agency. In the case of California Stem Cell Treatment Centers, the agency sent U.S. Marshals to seize vials of Vaccinia Virus Vaccine, which is exclusively reserved for patients who have been exposed to the smallpox virus. The clinic was using the vaccine as part of an experimental cancer treatment, but the agency deemed such a treatment as unproven and potentially dangerous.

Stem cell researchers George Daley—dean of Harvard Medical School—and Paul Knoepfler—professor of cell biology at UC Davis—have both praised the FDA’s actions. Both experts have been outspoken in their criticisms of stem cell clinics all over the nation, and yet thousands have popped up everywhere. Now, with federal agencies getting involved, the patients who were injured by these untried treatments may have a chance to find justice.

Brought to you by the medical malpractice attorneys here at Moss Hovden—helping those who have been wronged by the negligence of others.

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