It’s a funny thing how having this blog can provide insights into unexpected stem cell events and news going on around the world such as, most recently, action by the government of Romania on stem cell firms there for alleged “dirty practices”, news that as far as I know has only been reported in Romanian.
How did I learn of this?
I know a small amount of Romanian myself, but on my site I have a project called SCOPE, which provides a basic stem cell white paper “What is stem cells?” in dozens of languages. I developed SCOPE, but it was made possible via the generous offers of time by volunteer translators, mostly scientists who are bilingual. One of the languages is Romanian and the Romanian version of the white paper is entitled, “Ce sunt celulele stem?“
For whatever reason, when people search for “stem cells” or “what are stem cells?” in their own languages, often times Google and other search engines send them via search results to the SCOPE webpage here on The Niche. This seems to be true of Romanian as well. I noticed a huge spike in visits to the “Ce sunt celulele stem?” page last week over a couple days. To me this was a signal that something in Romania was happening with stem cells.
Doing my own searching I found this news article entitled, “Amendă pentru 5 grupuri medicale din România. Practici murdare cu celule stem”, which according to Google loosely translates as, “Fine for 5 medical groups in Romania. Dirty practices with stem cells.”
Overall, it reported (at least as I gathered with Google translate) that some Romanian authorities were acting on stem cells somehow. It’s not quite what I first thought from the title as I had guessed it meant something related to non-sterile technique or something like that, but going on to the subtitle it seems more related to alleged marketing or financial practices.
“MedLife acknowledged the anticompetitive practices of the stem cell market and announced the Bucharest Stock Exchange regarding the fine imposed by the Competition Council.”
The article goes on:
“The Competition Council has fined five medical centers (Medicover Hospitals, Med Life, Arcadia Hospital, Genesys Medical Clinic and Rur Medical) and two Stem Sure Solutions and CBC Laboratories (Stem Sure Solutions) to complete anti-competitive agreements private. The centers had exclusivity contracts with the two stem cell banks and were directing their patients to them.
In conclusion, the patients had minimal possibilities to opt for another stem cell source. If they had chosen another institution, they would have paid a much higher price.”
The fines seem pretty hefty as the largest was as best as I can tell just under the equivalent of $190,000 USD (converting the Romanian currency of Lei to USD), with some other fines in a lower range. A week or so later, I found an English language article on this topic that had popped up. The focus seems to be mostly on birth-related “stem cell” banking.
I wonder how much else is going on with stem cell firms around the world that many of us have no clue about (especially not in a timely manner) because we don’t speak the language and/or get the news feeds from those countries?
Note that I have no direct knowledge of the practices of nor allegations against the firms mentioned in the Romanian news article.