Stem cell clinic busted: police make arrests in Indonesia

Police in Indonesia seal off an illegal stem cell clinic
Police in Indonesia seal off an illegal stem cell clinic. Uncredited photo.

Police in Indonesia have busted a stem cell clinic. They shut down an allegedly illegal stem cell clinic and made arrests of those working there including potentially the doctor. The clinic was located in Kemang, South Jakarta, but the clinic is not named and the personnel are listed by their initials including a Doctor OH.

Police in Indonesia seal off an illegal stem cell clinic
Police in Indonesia reportedly seal off an illegal stem cell clinic. Uncredited photo.

Four news reports in Indonesian (here, here, here, and here) describe the dramatic events. The first one I listed included an uncredited photo that I’ve included in this post. Now a newer piece in English has appeared calling the action a “bust”.

How did I even find out about this? No, I don’t speak Indonesian. I wish I did!

I noticed this weekend that traffic on The Niche’s Indonesian language page Apakah itu stem cell (sel punca)? shot through the roof so I quickly searched the web for news on “sel punca” or “stem cell” in Indonesian and out popped many news articles. This appears to be a prominent national news story in Indonesia.

Here are some key quotes from the news articles I found:

” Investigators from the State Security Sub Directorate at the Directorate of General Criminal Investigation (Ditreskrimum) of the Jakarta Metropolitan Police have sealed a clinic located at Ruko Bellepoint, Jalan Kemang Selatan VIII, South Jakarta, for illegally carrying out the practice of stem cell injection.”

“Metro Jaya Regional Police investigators secured several people in the operation and named three suspects, namely YW (46) as the clinical manager, LJ (47) as the marketing manager and Dr. OH as the general practitioner as well as the clinic owner in charge of injecting patients.”

“In the arrest operation, officers confiscated a number of items of evidence such as unlicensed Japanese K product stem cells, IV lines, syringes, antiseptic devices and patient registration.”

As a stem cell researcher, I’m glad to see this action.

In a way it’s puzzling that here in the U.S. state and local law enforcement hasn’t done more about stem cell clinics since there are at least a few that are clearly violating the law in extremely risky ways in a number of states. Many others are likely violating the law in at least moderately risky ways.

5 Comments

  1. I’m Indonesian (currently living outside the country for postgraduate studies). If you need assistance for translation, feel free to contact me.

      • Unfortunately I don’t know about this clinic or the doctor specifically. It did seem to make national news (our largest newspaper in circulation, Kompas, reported the story, as well as some news programmes), but I don’t think it was a big news. It has to be emphasised that the news seem to emphasise the ‘illegal and unregistered’ aspect of the clinic instead of the effectiveness of the treatment in general. This piece in Kompas (https://bebas.kompas.id/baca/utama/2020/01/13/polisi-belum-pastikan-terjadi-masalah-kesehatan-dari-terapi-sel-punca-ilegal) (in Indonesian) stated that ‘no allogeneic stem cell treatments have been approved in Indoneisa’ and ‘all approved stem cell treatments in Indonesia are autologous’. (I might be able to help to translate this article for you, but it will take some time due to my research work).

        I don’t have the exact number, but there are quite a number of stem cell clinics in Indonesia. Some of them, like this one: http://vinskistemcellcentre.com/ claimed that their stem cell therapy has anti-aging and sexual health benefits, amongst others. In the case of the clinic I mentioned, I couldn’t find any information regarding whether they have a permit from BPOM (Indonesian FDA) or not. Unfortunately some key Indonesian figures like our former vice president seem to be associated with the clinic: https://jakartaglobe.id/culture/vinski-tower-offers-world-class-anti-aging-preventive-regenerative-treatments/.

        PS: I know about an Indonesian scientist (now based in the US) who is/was associated with with the Vinski clinic. He was embroiled in controversy several years ago due to his claims of being a Nobel nominee as well as his connection with a dubious institution in the US. He also collaborated with Mathi Senapathi, a name that you might find familiar….

  2. Dear Paul,
    The action is only the tip of an iceberg. There are a lot of clinics, and beauty salons that are selling the so called “stem cell” products. Whether the products really contain stem cells only the sellers know the truth. The condition here is really chaotic like in your country. There were victims, but the cases were not followed up and were not published (so you could not find if you search, and I wonder why…). I hope that this is the beginning.

    In Indonesia we have recently a regulation that cell therapy can only be given in the context of research based service, as most has no real evidence base (still need to be proven). The service can only be given in an appointed hospitals (legally) or in clinics that are associated to the hospitals as part of a clinical trial.

    There are 2 main hospitals that are the leaders: Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Jakarta, and Dr. Sutomo Hospital in Surabaya, and there are 9 other hospitals under their supervision. Other hospitals that can meet the requirements to give cell therapy service can apply to get a permit. Requirements (all should be fulfilled) to apply for a permit:

    Main teaching hospital + affiliations
    Class B hospitals
    Has attained highest accreditation
    Has competent man power for cell therapy
    Has required infrastructure, means and equipments for cell therapy

    Cell production only can be done in a certified cGMP facility, and there are more or less 5 facilities, but the facilities have not the permit to give their cells to patients, so they have to cooperate with centers that have a legal permit to give research based cell therapy servives.

    Jeanne Adiwinata Pawitan
    Universitas Indonesia

  3. IN THE U.S. WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE LAW. HOW DOES THAT WORK WITH FAMILY CORD BLOOD INJECTIONS AND CLINICS , DOCTORS. IM IN TEXAS, CELLS STORED IN NEW ENGLAND
    RALPH M. PATIENT

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