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OBA calls for update on stem cell regulations

Shadow Health Minister Michael Dunkley is calling for Government to reveal what stem cell regulations are in store as plans seemingly continue to treat desperately sick patients at the Brown-Darrell Clinic.

Three years have now passed since late Health Minister Nelson Bascome promised measures to ensure former Premier Ewart Brown's Winterhaven initiative conformed with international best practice.

Since then, the Ministry of Health has refused to comment on how this will be done, but the Clinic reportedly remains in partnership with California-based Stemedica.

In July 2007, Brown-Darrell, a partnership between Stemedica, Dr Brown and his wife Wanda, announced plans for “no-option patients” to be flown to Bermuda for stem cell work from early 2008.

However, International Society for Stem Cell Research president George Daley reacted by claiming he was sceptical of any group running experimental treatment in jurisdictions without regulatory oversight.

Dr Daley warned desperate patients not to be misled into thinking stem cells are a miracle cure.

Senator Dunkley said yesterday: “We remain very concerned with the apparent lack of progress in regards to regulations relating to stem cell treatments on the Island.

“There has been sufficient time for the Government to formulate a policy and regulations in regards to this type of treatment on Island and it is unacceptable that this matter has dragged on for so long without the public being made aware of progress.

“We trust that the Government will be forthcoming with an update very shortly.”

Brown-Darrell has previously pledged to welcome and encourage stem cell legislation, but has repeatedly failed to respond when asked if it will postpone opening the stem cell side of its operation until such legislation is in place.

In 2009, Mr Bascome promised policy guidelines would be drawn up, followed by official regulations.

The Ministry of Health has failed to respond on several occasions over the past two years, including over the past few days, when asked:

l Are guidelines, regulations and/or legislation for stem cells still being developed?

l What will they be?

l Has the Ministry set any target for getting those guidelines in place?

Brown-Darrell and Stemedica have declined to answer any questions from

The Royal Gazette.

But after Stemedica announced progress in treatments involving paralysed rats in November, Bernews reported a Brown-Darrell spokesman saying: “Brown-Darrell Clinic salutes our partner Stemedica on this promising accomplishment and we look forward to working with them in the future.”

Dr Brown's last public comment on the subject, in September 2010, was: “The research side is coming. There's not a lot of legislative changes, there's some guidelines that the Ministry of Health is putting in place.”

Bermuda's name was removed from the list of affiliated countries on Stemedica's website following Dr Daley's comments in 2007.

Currently Stemedica's website states: “Stemedica International SA is currently supporting clinical trials in Kazakhstan and Mexico and anticipates supporting similar initiatives in Argentina, Panama, Lebanon, Jordan, India, and Korea in 2012.

“The company's international subsidiary is also supporting significant pre-clinical trials in Russia, Switzerland, China, and Korea.”

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Published February 14, 2012 at 1:00 am (Updated February 14, 2012 at 6:12 am)

OBA calls for update on stem cell regulations

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