RNL Bio had a challenging year in 2012 in my opinion.
It was sued in U.S. court for stem cell fraud by Korean national patients living in the U.S. It had a legal tussle, still ongoing, with former partner Celltex over custody of Celltex’s banked patient stem cells.
Well, it seems to me that 2013 has gotten off to a choppy start already for RNL as well with news breaking today in The Korea Times of charges filed by the Korean Customs Service (KCS) that RNL Bio allegedly smuggled stem cells out of Korea to hospitals in China and Japan on 860 occasions between November 2008 through July 2012.
According to the article:
“The fact that the company has not reported the items to customs is true. The case has now been referred to the prosecution for further investigation,” said an official from the KCS.
For me, a key question is whether RNL Bio might also have shipped human stem cells into or out of the U.S. without going through customs. Perhaps not, but it seems like a logical question. Reportedly RNL will issue a PR later today on this case, which we should be keeping an eye out for to hear their side of things.
More broadly have other stem cell clinics that have customer bases in the U.S., but treat patients overseas also been shipping patient stem cell samples out of or into the U.S. without going through customs?
I think this is very likely happening and potentially violating the law.
More generally, shipping human biological specimens internationally is complicated by the legal requirement of going through customs in most countries. Sometimes the specimens take days to clear, after which they have warmed up if the shipper was not extra careful in packing and are useless.
Still, one must follow the law, right?