Florida bill aims to “crack down” on state’s for-profit stem cell clinics

Florida is a hot mess on the for-profit stem cell clinic front. My own state of California isn’t much better and actually has a great number of clinics, but more problems are coming to light in Florida, at least at this point. Now WLRN reports that a legislator in Florida has proposed a new bill to try to address some of the issues with the clinics.

Stem cells Florida California
Clinics selling stem cells in Southern California and Florida (left and right).

Many clinics in Florida are making money from vulnerable patients and in some cases have apparently caused them harm, including claimed and some documented cases of blindness. Meanwhile more clinics are opening all the time.

You can see maps of the many clinics in parts of Florida and Southern California from the 2016 Cell Stem Cell paper from Leigh Turner and me. In a new paper we just published we chart the temporal nature of the spread of clinics across the U.S. and you can see in the accompanying animated video how Florida is a definite hot spot over time.

According to the WLRN piece by Daylina Miller, entitled, “Tampa Lawmaker Proposes Crack Down On For-Profit Stem Cell Clinics”:

“Senator Dana Young said stem cell treatments are already heavily regulated by the Food & Drug Administration, but the rules allow less scrupulous procedures to fall through the cracks.”

I’m not sure about the “heavily regulated” part.

Young has sponsored a bill, SB 1508, which could make clinic businesses meet higher standards and, if it becomes law (as of July 1, 2018), it could have positive impact:

“If the bill passes and becomes law, stem-cell clinics will have to register with the Department of Health, have a designated physician on staff responsible for complying with all requirements related to registration and operation of the clinic, and comply with annual DOH inspections.

It would also dictate the Florida Board of Medicine to adopt rules governing advertising by stem-cell clinics and informed consent guidelines, and allow DOH to impose an administrative fine up to $5,000 per violation.”

In some ways SB 1508 reminds a bit me of our new law here in California requiring stem cell clinics to notify patients of various important facts and for the state medical board to monitor the situation, but Florida’s SB 1508 (should it be come law) would be more work to enforce and has more ambitious goal. Will it pass though?

I hope SB 1508 becomes law, but I have a feeling that it will face tough opposition in Florida and the odds may be against it passing. It’ll be interesting to watch what happens with the bill.

5 thoughts on “Florida bill aims to “crack down” on state’s for-profit stem cell clinics”

  1. @admin – I found this story googling “new stem cell law in Florida” because I’ve heard doctors are now telling patients that “later this year, stem cell treatments will be legal in Florida after this new law passes.” Perhaps your take on this being increased enforcement is misguided? From reading what you’ve written above and statements from doctors like the one I just quoted, it seems like all this law will accomplish is to legitimize many of the now-illegal clinics. They just have to register their clinic and have a doctor on staff who ensures the clinic follows Florida’s DOH clinic registration and operation requirements? Actually, this law seems to be much less restrictive than the Texas law. Of course, in Texas, the TMB and HHS are yet to publish the regulations that accompany that law so nobody really knows what will and will not be allowed. Perhaps it’s the same in Florida but on the face of it, I’d say that once the Florida law passes, any doctor in any clinic will be able to start administering “stem cell therapy”. Am I missing something?

    1. @Bill, the media reports at the time portrayed it as increased enforcement, but there may be more to it that is along the lines of what you say. Now that it is dead (thanks for the heads up on that), I’m not sure if it’ll be regenerated as a new bill in a future session or not.

  2. Nightmare stories of nurses giving potent drugs meant for one patient to another and surgeons removing the wrong body parts have dominated recent headlines about medical care. Lest you assume those cases are the exceptions, a new study by patient-safety researchers provides some context. this Nurse, Surgeons… are making money from vulnerable patients and in some cases have apparently caused them Death.
    Lets make laws to prohibited these professional work….

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