There are so many stem cell clinics out there that it can be hard to keep track of them and the news about them, but a big court victory against a Manhattan stem cell clinic by New York State Attorney General Letitia James is notable for several reasons.
Injunction on Park Avenue Stem Cell clinic and big fine
The AG office outlined the judgement against Park Avenue Stem Cell run by Dr. Joel B. Singer in a November 24, 2021 press release. The firm was also known as Image Plastic Surgery, LLC.
The court settlement is available to read as well. The key take homes here include a permanent injunction against the clinic and penalties, fees, and restitution potentially adding up to $5.1 million.
Here’s the specifics from the AG PR:
Earlier today, the court entered a previously issued order by Judge Andrew Borrok of the New York County Supreme Court, Commercial Division that permanently enjoined Park Avenue Stem Cell Clinic and Dr. Singer from engaging in fraudulent, deceptive, and illegal marketing of their stem cell treatments. In particular, the court enjoined the defendants from representing that their treatments can treat, cure, or mitigate any medical condition until competent and reliable scientific evidence to support the safety and efficacy of such treatments exists, as well as enjoined the defendants from falsely representing that their treatments have FDA approval or that their patients are participating in a study approved by the FDA. The court further enjoined them from representing or implying that they are endorsed by any medical or scientific society or organization and from using misleading patient testimonials.
Finally, the court ordered the defendants to pay $5.1 million in potential consumer restitution, penalties, and costs.
That’s a big hit to the clinic. Could it serve as a deterrent to other similar clinics?
Advertising in Asia
It was news to me that the clinic had been advertising in multiple languages. The apparent targeting of potential Asian customers was striking as mentioned in the PR:
“In ads placed in Asian and Russian language newspapers, they represented stem cells as “magical” or “miraculous” cells that could help diabetes patients avoid amputation and even help people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis to “throw away crutches and get younger.”
I wonder how many people came from other countries to Manhattan for the stem cell injections.
The bigger picture: former Cell Surgical Network clinic
Another level to this case is that Park Avenue Stem Cell used to be a part of the stem cell clinic chain called Cell Surgical Network. You can see the listing for this clinic on the network website here on Wayback Machine. Just scroll down.
Note that the network was not a defendant in the NY State case.
Cell Surgical Network itself is awaiting a verdict any day now from a federal district court judge in a suit by the FDA seeking a permanent injunction against them. It could go either way.
It’s also notable that a new patient lawsuit was recently filed against another apparently current clinic member of Cell Surgical Network. The new suit is for alleged vision loss following injection of a fat cell mixture into a patient’s eye at the clinic. The network is not named in the new patient suit.
Still, in my opinion these other suits are not great news for the overall chain. If it wins the big California federal case though that’s going to really jumble things. Another possible complicated outcome in the California case is that the judge could issue a mixed verdict where he enjoins some activities but not others.
More broadly at the state level, several other state AGs have filed suits against stem cell clinic-related firms.
We’ll see how those cases go.