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Fears over bogus stem cell clinics

10 January 2010
Appeared in BioNews 540
Scientist and patient groups want more safeguards to prevent clinics in the UK from offering unproven stem cell treatments, according to the Guardian newspaper. The calls come as a Harley Street doctor - Robert Trossel - comes before the General Medical Council (GMC) accused of misconduct, the newspaper reports. According to the Guardian, the upcoming GMC hearing will consider allegations that he offered, and made false claims about, stem cell therapy. Dr Trossel is accused of sending UK patients to Rotterdam where they paid up to £12,000 to receive stem cell treatments for degenerative diseases like multiple sclerosis.

BioNews reported on Robert Trossel in 2006. The story covered plans by Advanced Cell Therapeutics (ACT), the Swiss company that provided stem cells to Dr Trossel, to offer its controversial stem cell therapy to UK patients on overnight ferries sailing in international waters. This would allow it to bypass EU regulation after it was ordered to stop operating in Ireland by the Irish Medical Board.

The BioNews stories followed reports in the BBC and Guardian about ACT, which the Guardian found had taken over the business of a US company called Biomark. According to these reports, Biomark closed in 2003 during an investigation by the US's drugs regulatory agency - the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA). In 2006, Biomark's founders faced a 51-count indictment in the US alleging they made fraudulent claims about the effectiveness of their treatments.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Stem cell firm uses Swansea ferry to evade Irish block on controversial treatment
The Guardian |  1 May 2006
Stem cell treatment warning
BBC Newsnight |  30 August 2006
Warning over claims of stem cell cures
The Guardian |  10 January 2010
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