Another kind of stem cell tragedy: William P. Murphy passes at 100

It’s kind of a tragedy that William P. Murphy, former chairman of unproven stem cell clinic firm, US Stem Cell, might be most remembered after his recent passing for his doings there. 

For example, I didn’t know until now of his prolific past as a biomedical inventor who did a lot of good.

Instead, my impression of him has been almost entirely that of a guy mysteriously being chairman of a clinic firm that has hurt people and run into all kinds of trouble.

William P. Murphy, US Stem Cell
William P. Murphy in his Florida home. Photo from Mike Tomas.

Overall, Murphy’s background and achievements are quite impressive.

Son of a Nobel laureate, Murphy seemed to have a knack both for medicine and engineering. He put these things to good use including for the development of early vinyl bags for medical use. These bags likely saved thousands of lives. He invented many other things too.

William P. Murphy and US Stem Cell

How did he end up being a leader of US Stem Cell, a firm selling non-FDA-approved and non-scientifically proven stem cells?

He became Chairman of the firm Bioheart, which sadly morphed at some point into US Stem Cell.

Murphy stayed on. Over the years, he invested millions of his own money in the company too.

This clinic firm marketed fat cell injections for many different diseases, eventually running afoul of the FDA. The agency now has a court-affirmed permanent injunction on the firm.

A subsidiary of US Stem Cell called US Stem Cell Clinic had several customers lose their vision after getting fat cells injected into their eyes, which may have sparked the FDA action.

Even after that, Murphy still stuck with the clinic firm for a time, which is a real mystery to me.

Does US Stem Cell have a future? If it does, it will have to move forward without one of its strongest supporters in Murphy.

Last year, Dr. Mark Berman, the leader of another firm marketing fat cells via clinics, also passed away but of COVID.

2 thoughts on “Another kind of stem cell tragedy: William P. Murphy passes at 100”

  1. Great article. I too am/was always very puzzled by a man with the pedigree and legacy of Dr Murphy somehow becoming mixed up with Bioheart, eventually becoming US Stem Cell ? My personal “speculation” and that is all it would be – is that Dr Murphy had completed the bulk of his most seminal work(s) starting around the late 1940 to mid 1950s (he was born in 1923 !!) and his greatest works and companies he started-owned probably wrapped-up around the late 1980s or so, selling one or two companies he had formed and brought to a level to make him reasonable wealthy via selling them (heart stent tech, if I’m not mistaken ?). His key work on the vinyl blood bags to replace the fragile glass bottles occurred during the Korean war conflict – where he deployed into the war zone to test and perfect that technology on wounded battlefield soldiers ! That was a seminal life saving technology he helped co-invent. It would later lead to the flexible vinyl IV bag also. Without even any doubt – those two technologies alone were a massive transformation of “modern medicine” leading to untold saving of too many lives to count. Flexible “bag tech” (versus bulky, hard to handle glass bottles) is today used in literally every hospital, every dialysis center, every chemo session, every battlefield and every paramedic response on planet earth. Opening a IV line or giving a “blood bag” infusion – is standard of care “life saving medicine” and “emergency medicine”, 101. Dr Murphy also directly worked on dialysis tech and helping to perfect that – another seminal invention accomplishment and obviously a life saving gift also, to too many patients to ever count. Thus, by the time Dr Murphy joined then Bioheart, I believe it was 2003, and he would thus have already been 80 years old which is quite amazing in itself. By the time things really, really started to “go amiss” at what had become then US Stem Cell Inc, Dr Murphy was probably approx 90 years old. Thus, again, my pure speculation – when it was “BioHEART” perhaps the good Doctor was genuinely intrigued at the possibility of a life saving and new and novel cardiac tech which he, it appears, believed really had merit. By the time things “went amiss”, perhaps Dr Murphy really didn’t fully understand how far off the rails the entire “clinic thing” had strayed outside of legit clinic trials and “practicing of good medicine” etc. That’s pure speculation – but this was clearly a highly intelligent man and one who gave a good portion of his life to “Do no harm and do what is best for the patient” etc. He was a Harvard med grad – he swore the Hippocratic oath. I’m willing to side on, “He perhaps was looking for one last go at technology like his younger glory days, and it went amiss before he fully understood how far it went bad”, then being 90 years or older. It’s all I can figure. An older man – with good intentions and just sort of lost control of what seemed like a good idea and reminded him of his highly productive youth. Only the good Dr must know in his heart – I guess we’ll never fully know or understand it all. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and hope his amazing legacy can be remembered for the vast good he did and not be overshadowed by his name now being sort of forever linked to US Stem Cell and how far that went wrong – including the FDA actions and court cases and all the rest of the mess. May the good Doctor RIP.

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