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Texas Medical Board Approves Controversial Stem Cell Policy

Board president Dr. Irwin Zeitler told the Houston Chronicle that the board made the move in response to the federal government's sluggishness in sanctioning stem cell therapies. "We know this is far from a perfect policy, but our hope is that this affords people in Texas seeking this therapy some protection," he said. "The wheels of the federal government move so slowly — we're not willing to wait to protect our patients."

The 10 - 4 vote to approve the regulations came despite opposition from some board members who were concerned their action could put patients in danger from unproven, unlicensed therapies. The policy also has drawn criticism worldwide for appearing to circumvent the US Food and Drug Administration and for making the therapy commercially available before it has been proven safe and effective. The treatment is not approved by the FDA and can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

No date has been set for when the policy will take effect, but it is expected to be at least 30 days. In the meantime, the medical board has promised to work on improving the regulations and will bring revisions to its next meeting in June.

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