LA Times Reports Stemgenex Doc Gets 3-Year Probation from State Medical Board

The world of stem cell clinics is on edge right now with a number of negative patient outcomes reported and lawsuits in play such as San Diego stem cell clinic Stemgenex being a defendant in a proposed class action lawsuit focusing in part on alleged problematic marketing claims on their website (see archived posts on the lawsuit).

Pulitzer Prize-winning LA Times columnist Michael Hiltzik has a new piece on both the broader stem cell clinic jungle out there and on specific issues with Stemgenex. It’s a must read for anyone who cares about stem cells.

Stemgenex Doctors

Stemgenex  team of physicians as a few months ago

Hiltzik goes through various concerns about the practices of Stemgenex and then breaks the story that one of the key Stemgenex doctors, Dr. Scott Sessions, was placed on probation by the California State Medical Board in February. The probation was not related to Stemgenex:

“There are other red flags. One of the medical group’s physicians, plastic surgeon Scott Sessions, was placed on three years’ probation by the California Medical Board in February. He was accused of negligence related to cosmetic surgery and other procedures he performed on two patients at an unrelated facility in 2011 and 2013.

Schubert told me Wednesday that “Dr. Sessions has informed us that he is in compliance with all requirements of the probationary terms of the medical board.” But the very next day, his name, photograph and bio had disappeared from the StemGenex website. Sessions didn’t respond to a request for comment.”

Sessions photo was up on the Stemgenex website (see image above) and then suddenly it wasn’t. Hiltzik also mentions that Stemgenex has had other questionable information on its website in the past.

With California having the most stem cell clinics selling non-FDA approved interventions of any state I hope the state medical board here will wake up to the fact that it needs to give this arena more attention.

Stem cell clinic lawsuits proliferate with latest against Stemgenex

StemGenexThere is a growing trend of apparently unhappy patients suing stem cell clinics, which have faced more lawsuits recently and some of these cases are proposed class action suits that could have much broader impact.

The latest case is against San Diego-based Stemgenex, a clinic that has claimed amongst other things that it can treat numerous diverse afflictions and that it has had a 100% customer satisfaction rate.

KPBS reporter David Wagner also has more on this story. Wagner also noted that Stemgenex has publicly argued for less FDA oversight of stem cells even as this case was starting to unfold. Amongst the around 600 stem cell clinics in the U.S., many of these businesses also argue for less FDA oversight.

What’s the back story on the Stemgenex case?

stemgenex-lawsuitEarlier this year there were some indications of attorneys being interested in a possible class action suit in part against a stem cell clinic in San Diego, but specifics had been lacking. Now a court document has provided new detailed information.

This case is Moorer v. StemGenex Medical Group. et at. The main named plaintiff on behalf of all the potential others in the class is Selena Moorer. A second plaintiff, Stephen Ginsberg, is mentioned later in the document as part of the “financial abuse of elders” subclass.

The defendants include the following businesses and individuals: Stemgenex, Stemgenex Medical Group, Stem Cell Research Centre, Rita Alexander, Andre Lallande D.O., Scott Sessions M.D., and DOE defendants 1-100. For the first three businesses listed as defendants, I don’t know at this time how they are interrelated versus different.

There are nine separate causes of action mentioned:

  1. “Violations of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200 et seq
  2. Violations of Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code .§ 17500 et seq.
  3. Violations of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Cal. Civ. Code § 1750 et seq
  4. Violation of Human Experimentation Law – Cal. Health &; Safety Code § 24170, et seq
  5. Violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
  6. Fraud
  7. Negligent Misrepresentation
  8. Unjust Enrichment
  9. Financial Elder Abuse”

I’m not sure why earlier in the document it lists only 8 complaints and then later the 9 complaints listed above are mentioned. There are a lot of other potentially notable things mentioned in the document as well such as that Stemgenex charges $14,900 per treatment. If I understood the document correctly, this case has now gone from being a California suit to a federal case. I’m not sure on why and what implications that might have.

Importantly, keep in mind that we do not know if any of these allegations are factual and there is no court ruling on any of them. Stemgenex reportedly did not respond to requests from KPBS for comment. If the company comments on the case I’ll do a post on that.

What about the stem cell clinic area more broadly?

More generally, as mentioned earlier, it’s been an active year for lawsuits against stem cell clinics. The community learned last week about the second of two different stem cell lawsuits against Florida-based U.S. Stem Cell, Inc. At the end of August there were indications of a possible class action lawsuit against The Lung Institute, another stem cell clinic.

I’m not a lawyer, but I wonder if class action suits, if approved, could be combined and then end up encompassing many different clinics across the U.S. as defendants. Continue reading