October 25, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Arkansas adds to wave of state AG actions vs. stem cell clinics

It’s encouraging to see that the states including now Arkansas via their attorney generals (or is it attorneys general?) are taking more action against stem cell clinic firms, but the big scope of AG action has somewhat surprised me.

Arkansas AG suit

The latest AG action on a stem cell clinic type firm comes from Arkansas. The State AG there has just sued a regenerative clinic there along with people involved in the firm. Here are the core details from the AG announcement, which is entitled, “Medical center fraudulently targets Latino community with expensive treatments”:

“Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge today announced a lawsuit against Arkansas Regenerative Medical Center LTD (ARMC), the firm’s medical director Sarah Knife Chief, M.D., and chiropractor Serge Francois, D.C. for fraudulently promoting to Northwest Arkansas’s Latino community expensive stem cell and ozone therapies, costing upwards of $3,000, to combat COVID-19.”

It’s possible that COVID is part of what is sparking so much AG action across the U.S. However, not all the AG actions are related to the pandemic.

Sarah Knife Chief, M.D., and chiropractor Serge Francois, D.C. From KNWA, stem cell lawsuit Arkansas
Sarah Knife Chief, M.D., and chiropractor Serge Francois, D.C. are defendants in suit brought by the Arkansas AG. Image screenshot from KNWA

Chiropractor involvement, Facebook advertising fit patterns across US

In this new suit we can see common elements of problematic trends over the last few years including the involvement of chiropractors, Facebook advertising, and the use of questionable cellular products. The Facebook advertising in this area is getting  much worse I think since Google’s stem cell clinic ad ban of last year. I’ve been following Google ads for stem cell clinics and related firms for many years as you can see from this 2012 piece I did way back then.

If successful, the lawsuit could result in major financial hits to the defendants, but more generally I wonder if defendants in cases like this will be deterred from moving on elsewhere. I hope so, but we’ll see.

Insider goes to AG

Some of the local coverage of this lawsuit is useful and interesting. The local TV station KNWA was able to talk to some of the people who reported the firm. You can also see a screenshot from their article of the two care providers involved, Dr. Knife Chief and chiropractor Francois. KNWA quotes an anonymous source who went to the AG:

“These people are preying on fear of this deadly virus, right? Preying on people’s fear…This is just not fair, that most of the people that went to this place are the people that needed resources the most.”

I recommend reading that KNWA piece as there’s a lot more in there including a response from the clinic firm to the AG denying any problematic actions.

Big picture on wave of AG actions across the US

Overall, to my knowledge we now have attorney general actions in these states: Arkansas, Georgia, North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, and New York.

I’d bet that many more are to come.

As I’ve said in the past, I’m disappointed in my own state California for not doing more as we have more clinics than any other state and I know the AG here is aware of the problem. Maybe action is pending here.

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