September 26, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Medical Board of California is slowly failing on stem cell clinic problem

Medical Board of California Stem Cell Task Force Meeting
2019 Medical Board of California Stem Cell Task Force Meeting. Picture by Paul Knoepfler.

The Medical Board of California has been aware of the unproven stem cell clinic problem here for many years, but in my view the Board isn’t helping the problem in a real, meaningful way. It may actually be becoming part of the problem through inaction and lack of cooperation with other agencies.

If by the end of this post you agree, you can contact them here or by phone the office of the Executive Director at (916) 263-2389 to tell them they need to do far more and cooperate with others who are trying to make a difference.

This kind of community activism can make a real difference.

As some of you may recall, the Medical Board of California actually has a stem cell clinic task force. I went to a public meeting in 2019 by this task force and reported on it here. The Task Force consists of Randy W. Hawkins, M.D. and Howard R. Krauss, M.D.

I was upbeat at that point, but wary because it took forever for this Task Force to even meet. Also, unfortunately, the overall Medical Board has not followed up on this and sources tell me it is actually making things harder for others in the state who are working on the stem cell clinic problem including other government agencies.

In this way, the Board may be unintentionally acting like the advocate for stem cell clinic doctors rather than for the health of the State of California. More directly, they may be wary of getting those clinic docs angry.

David Jensen over at the California Stem Cell Report has been following the Board’s aproach to the stem cell clinic problem. Check out this recent item about the Board. Their passive approach to stem cell clinics is very disappointing. At best they will issue some guidelines for California doctors about stem cells:

“The Board is continuing to work toward the goal of providing recommendations on stem cell and regenerative therapies and developing some guidelines that California physicians and patients can follow. Board staff is working on compiling the information discussed at the interested parties meeting into a document to be reviewed by the Task Force.  The Task Force will then work with staff on developing a guidance document for physicians regarding stem cell and regenerative treatment that will include a sample informed consent document and educational materials for the public to present to the Board for review and final approval. The Board does not have a timeline to share at this time.”

This is woefully insufficient.

In a more recent post, Jensen highlighted this issue again and got this very discouraging reply from the Board:

“The board is continuing to work toward the goal of providing recommendations on stem cell and regenerative therapies and developing some guidelines that California physicians and patients can follow that will include a sample informed consent document and educational materials for the public to present to the board for review and final approval.”

Deja vu quote?

You’ve got to speed up, folks.

California is the leader in stem cell research and unfortunately it’s the leading state in unproven stem cell clinics too with more than 100 so I’d say the California Medical Board should show leadership in dealing with doctors at the worst of the California stem cell clinics who are violating their oaths.

I’m not saying all California stem cell clinics are the same because they aren’t. Even if I disagree with what they are doing, at least a few clinic physicians are trying to help patients via FDA-compliant offerings and doing things like collecting data, but there are also clearly some physicians in California running stem cell clinics who are ripping patients off and putting them at serious risk.

The Medical Board knows this, knows who those worst of the worst clinic docs are, and yet is doing nothing.

Again, please make your voice heard to push the Medical Board to do more.

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