Medical Board of California Task Force to Investigate Stem Cell Clinics

Medical Board of CaliforniaState involvement in reining in predatory stem cell clinics has never been more important, which is why it’s such good news that the Medical Board of California has a task force in the works to investigate such firms.

According to a new NBC7 report (linked to above) focusing both on this news and on their own investigation of San Diego area stem cell clinics by JW August, Mari Payton and Tom Jones, the California Board task force effort was in part sparked by the national organization of such boards, called the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which issued a report largely on stem cell clinics back in the spring.

From the NBC7 report:

“A spokesperson for the California Medical Board said they are now reviewing the Federation’s recommendations but there is no date set for when the task force will get to work.

NBC7 Investigates has learned the California Attorney General and San Diego County District Attorney’s offices have both received information on various stem cell clinics and their practices. Neither office would confirm or deny that any active investigation is taking place.”

The Medical Board of California in some ways has more power to shut down predatory stem cell clinics in our state than the FDA given their ability to take action on physician licenses. The second paragraph above is also quite important as local law enforcement can have a major impact on shutting down the worst clinics and discouraging others.

I wrote the Medical Board of California on October 17 of this year suggesting that they take some kind of action on the stem cell clinic problem in our state. I was encouraged by their reply on October 27 (pasted below) from Executive Director Kimberly Kirchmeyer) that included a mention of their task force. Note that you can see Board members listed here. Here’s part of the email from them:

“Thank you for your email below to the Medical Board of California (Board) regarding stem cell clinics in California.  Yes, this is an issue the Board is aware of and is looking into at this time.  Dr. Krauss, Board Member, was actually on the Federation of State Medical Boards’ (FSMB) Workgroup that developed the Policy Statement approved by the FSMB House of Delegates in April 2018.  This policy was shared with the Board Members at the July 2018 Board Meeting.  At that meeting it was discussed that a Task Force would be developed regarding this issue.  At the October 2018 Board meeting held on October 18, Board President Denise Pines stated during the meeting that the Board was establishing a Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine Task Force.  The Task Force members will be Dr. Krauss and Dr. Hawkins.
The goal of this Task Force is to review the FSMB policy and determine if any changes need to be made in California based upon the policy.  The Task Force will hold meetings regarding this issue and will also hold interested party meetings to hear from those interested in this issue.  Those meetings will be noticed through the Board’s subscription list (please subscribe here) and notice will also be posted on the Board’s website.  If you have any information you would like to share with this Task Force, please feel free to forward that information to me.  In addition, please feel free to attend these meetings to provide additional information.  The Task Force will probably not meet until early 2019 based upon schedules.”

Unproven stem cell clinics now face a broad range of overseers from the FDA, the FTC, state medical boards, and law enforcement officials (both nationally and locally). On other fronts there are potentially serious problems for clinics too such as from patient lawsuits. By the way, you can see my list of specific quick actions you take on clinics that concern you here. I haven’t yet, but we can add to this list more broadly your participation in the California medical board meetings.

Broadly, it may be going rapidly from the best of times to the worst of times for unproven stem cell clinics in the U.S., which would be a very good thing for patients and the stem cell field, if it actually happens. We’ll see. Admittedly, I’ve been too optimistic before.

2 thoughts on “Medical Board of California Task Force to Investigate Stem Cell Clinics”

  1. Neil M. Barth MD FACP

    I am glad to see the regulatory oversight of the California Medical Board on Stem Cell clinics. This is long overdue. Hopefully this will begin to put pressure on those facilities that offer unproven, and often untested, therapies to patients with conditions that may be far better managed with treatments that have evidence-based support. As a medical oncologist I often see patients falling prey to ‘snake oil’ therapies that frequently further erode their physical, emotional and financial condition.

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