|China Cracks Down on Unapproved Stem Cell Treatments|
China has launched a year-long campaign to rein in unauthorized stem cell clinical trials with an order issued January 10 to stop unapproved stem cell treatments. The Ministry of Health also announced that it would not accept any new applications for stem cell procedures until July, as it attempts to deal with the growing number of unregulated studies and treatments occurring in that nation, many of which are performed on patients from other countries.
CCTV reports that an industry analysis shows that at least 10,000 foreign patients come to China for stem cell treatments each year, and roughly 100 hospitals and clinics are offering the service. Patients are being treated for diseases ranging from cancer and Alzheimer's to spinal cord injuries, blindness and more at a cost of up to tens of thousands of dollars. Many of these are experimental therapies and the patients later say they yielded little or no results.
Ministry spokesperson Deng Haihua said that any stem cell tests already approved by the State Food and Drug Administration would continue. However, health providers could no longer charge money for experimental stem cell applications under the new order, which was jointly issued by China's State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA).
China currently has no policy for clinical trials or applications of stem cell technology. Instead, the trials are subject to general regulations governing all medical practices in that country. Medical experts globally have indicated that they support this latest move by China, but say that a similar 2009 effort had little impact, in part because a number of facilities offering stem cell treatments are run by the military and are not under the governance of the Ministry of Health.