Friday, August 07, 2015

Three California Human Tissue Firms Targeted by House Committee

A Republican-dominated Congressional committee today zeroed in on three California human tissue firms entangled in the national flap over abortion and the Planned Parenthood Association.

All three were sent letters today seeking to determine whether the companies were in compliance with laws dealing with the distribution of fetal material.  They were given a deadline of Aug. 21 to provide a briefing to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Questions include procedures involving informed consent from donors, fees for fetal tissue, the amount of revenue from fetal tissues in 2014 along with policies and practices for handling fetal tissue.

StemExpress of Placerville, east of Sacramento, and its president Cate Dyer, received one of the letters. The stem cell and tissue firm has been much in the news about the controversy. The flap was triggered by Internet videos with Planned Parenthood officials that were taped surreptitiously by anti-abortion activists using false identities and false company credentials.

Both the federal and California departments of justice are investigating whether the anti-abortion activists violated the law when they made the undercover videos. 

The other two letters went to Linda Tracy, president of Advanced Bioscience Resources, Inc., of Alameda, and Ben Van Handel, executive director of Novogenix Laboratories, LLC, of Los Angeles. (See the letter to Advanced here, the letter to Novogenix here.)

The letters to StemExpress and the Advanced Bioscience referred to a July 27, New York Times article that included them. The House committee letter quoted from the piece.

The article by Denise Grady and Nicolaus St. Fleur said, 
"(F)etal tissue is a uniquely rich source of the stem cells that give rise to tissues and organs, and that studying how they develop can provide clues about how to grow replacements for parts of the body that have failed.
“'Think of fetal tissue as a kind of instruction booklet,' said Sheldon Miller, the scientific director of the intramural research program at the National Eye Institute.
"Stem cells derived from adult tissue may eventually replace fetal ones, researchers say, but the science is not there yet."
All three companies were told by the House committee,

Under the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993, it is "unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the
transfer affects interstate commerce." While this provision prohibits the sale or purchase of fetal
tissue itself, the term "valuable consideration" does not include reasonable payments associated
with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of
human fetal tissue. As the committee with legislative jurisdiction over the NIH Revitalization
Act of 1993, we have an oversight responsibility and interest in determining whether there is
adequate compliance with the law, and/or whether the law is adequately meeting ethical and
moral concerns." 

A Reuters story said that none of the companies has responded to a request for comment.

No comments:

Post a Comment