Thursday, July 18, 2019

California Medical Regulators Take Up Dubious Stem Cell Clinics Next Month

The California State Medical Board next month will discuss clinics that offer unregulated "stem cell" treatments that have allegedly led to blindness and tumors in some cases. 

The meeting comes a year after the board created a "task force" to address the issue.  It also comes as more news emerged this month concerning what was described as a "gruesome case" of an unregulated treatment that went wrong and a step-up in legal action against a La Jolla clinic. 

Canada this week also told dozens of clinics to stop selling unproven stem cells.

California is the location of the largest number of these dubious clinics in the United States, according to UC Davis stem cell researcher Paul Knoepfler and Leigh Turner of the University of Minnesota. The total nationally is currently believed to be more than 1,000. 

State legislation to regulate them is on the shelf in Sacramento. The state medical board formed a two-person task force last July to address the matter. The task force only recently held its first meeting on June 27. 

Queried by the California Stem Cell Report about the status of the board's work, Carlos Villatoro, a board spokesman, said this week, 
"There will be an update on the Stem Cell Task Force at the August meeting, as the Task Force has met. In addition, an interested parties meeting is being scheduled for early September."
The task force met with no public notice, which Villatoro said was not legally required. 

Villatoro has said that the board does not regulate clinics -- only physicians and some other medical professionals. The board describes itself as a consumer protection agency. 

(Here are links to what the board describes as a "complete listing" of laws dealing with its regulatory powers: California Law and Guide to the Laws Governing the Practice of Medicine by Physicians and Surgeons.)

The board meeting next month will be in Burlingame Aug. 8 and Aug. 9.  The agenda has not been posted, but the meeting is expected to streamed on the Internet. 

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