Monday, September 12, 2016

Live on the Internet: Today's FDA Hearing on Stem Cell Regulation, Preview of California's Comments

The FDA's two-day hearing into stem cell treatments is underway this morning and can be seen live on the Internet, including a presentation this afternoon by the California stem cell agency, which is seeking to ease FDA regulation of stem cell clinical trials.

A likely preview of the comments from the agency popped up this morning on California Healthline in a piece by Emily Bazar. She carried the brief text of an interview with Randy Mills, president of the $3 billion California agency.

He said,
"The problem with (the FDA's current) strategy is twofold. It doesn’t address the patients, or the need side of the equation. And I don’t think it has a chance of actually working because the FDA will acknowledge that they do not have the resources to enforce these types of regulations at the clinic level.
"They would have to be essentially regulating the practice of physicians, which is well beyond their capabilities. Even if they were able to enforce it, it would just drive these patients somewhere else.
"We’re advocating for the creation of some middle pathway that would bring essentially unregulated therapies into the regulatory fold, but in a manner which could be complied with.
"I would rather know these clinics are being regulated and collecting data than have them operating under the radar screen of the FDA. I would like there to be a formal pre-market review of these therapies before they’re put on the market. I would like there to be safety and efficacy data.
"I’m going to try hard to get the FDA to see that just plugging this hole won’t make the problem go away."
Bazar's piece also contained the text of comments from Jeanne Loring, head of the stem cell research program at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla. She said,
"There’s no scientific evidence that the fat cells (unregulated) clinics are using are going to do the patient any good. And there’s no evidence that shows they are safe.
"I’m a stem cell scientist. I need scientific evidence before I will believe anything. Regulation will help determine the efficacy and safety of those fat cells.
"There are several lawsuits or potential lawsuits brewing over these stem cell treatments. People were promised they would get improvements and didn’t. And there are cases where people were actually harmed by stem cells.
"Some people truly believe they have been helped by the stem cell injections. I’m not going to argue with them. It’s a very personal and emotional response. It’s not something that can be scientifically validated. People are really desperate, especially really sick people and their families.
"That means patients are at risk. That’s what bothers me a lot. There’s nothing we can do to talk somebody out of going to a clinic if they feel that’s the only option they have. We just want to make sure nobody gets hurt. We also don’t want people to go broke. These treatments are not covered by insurance and they cost tens of thousands of dollars."

Here is a link to the actual broadcast, which is being watched by about 300 persons at this moment. An overview of the audience seems to indicate that it is being lightly attended. Mills is scheduled to speak at 4:23 p.m. EDT.

Here is a link to the agenda including a list of speakers and schedule. The broadcast also has closed caption capability.

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