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Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda 206

Posted by timothy
from the honey-let's-have-another-embryo dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Stem cell tourism is a booming and troubling industry, in which clinics in places like Mexico, China, and India offer rich tourists experimental stem-cell-based treatments, none of which have been approved by the FDA here in the US. (Check out some of these creepy sites that offer treatments for everything from autism to MS, and even the 'very common ailment called aging.') But in one positive development, Costa Rica just shut down its top stem cell clinic. Said the country's health minister, 'This isn't allowed in any serious country in the world.'"
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Stem Cell Tourists Take Costa Rica Off the Agenda

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  • by epiphani (254981) <<ten.lad> <ta> <inahpipe>> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @02:36PM (#32514176)

    In 1974, I released The Book Which Tells The Truth, which described my contact with the Elohim, the extra-terrestrials who created us scientifically in their laboratories, and who were mistaken for 'God' or 'gods' by our primitive ancestors, who were too ignorant to understand the truth. At the time, it was the public's enthusiasm for the 'UFO phenomenon' that made my books and the conferences I held around the world a success.

    L. Ron, is that you?

  • Charlatans (Score:5, Informative)

    by al0ha (1262684) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @02:39PM (#32514244) Journal
    will always take advantage of the desperate. 60 Minutes did a piece on this same topic in April about a guy living in the US who scams people the same way, a real upstanding citizen. Kudos to Costa Rica for shutting their clinic down.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/16/60minutes/main6402854.shtml [cbsnews.com]
  • by CannonballHead (842625) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @02:41PM (#32514268)

    Elohim? Very original. That would be the Hebrew plural - or superlative, can be used both ways - for God. "El" is God, Elohim is the plural or superlative.

    I wonder how much he/the at the site make.

  • Re:Charlatans (Score:3, Informative)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @02:48PM (#32514382) Homepage Journal

    Or see Laetrile http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/Cancer/laetrile.html [quackwatch.org]
    Of course in a way you can not blame people. Imagine if you had a known terminal condition and there was nothing that could be done.
    At that point the idea of what do you have to loose becomes very real.

    Yep those folks are foul and yes good for you Costa Rica.

  • by lwsimon (724555) <lyndsy@lyndsysimon.com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @03:35PM (#32514994) Homepage Journal

    Citation [aynrand.org]

    The only legitimate job of a securities law enforcement division is to protect investors against the specific crimes of theft, fraud, and breach of contract.

    I believe Ayn Rand herself argued that taxation to fund contract enforcement is not a legitimate use of governmental force, but that the service should be provided on a percentage-of-transaction basis, and used as an optional means of generating revenue.

    Also see the Heritage Foundation's Sentencing of Corporate Fraud and White Collar Crimes [heritage.org]

  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:12PM (#32515476)

    Come'on now, 747s? Thats just crazy...

    The 14.4 zillion people killed 4 quadrillion years ago in volcanos that just started existing 100,000 years ago were taken there in DC-8s

  • Re:Alas (Score:3, Informative)

    by georgewilliamherbert (211790) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:34PM (#32515744)

    I have an excellent idea of how multistage clinical trials work, and why. I have family members who were strongly affected by well known drugs that failed to be safe in general practice.

    The specific technique in question has worked in all the mammals it's been tried in. That doesn't mean you can just skip ahead to doing it in humans on large scale without trials, no. But it was having problems getting approval to get the trials started, in no small part because of the insane federal government stem cell regulations from the previous administration. T his was particularly offensive because it entirely uses the patient's own stem cells (you liposuction some body fat to extract the stem cells from), and had nothing to do with embryonic stem cells.

    I wouldn't be complaining if it had been winding its way through approval. The FDA had threatened vets who were doing this and who had openly discussed doing a less rigorous Phase 0 study on themselves as human test subjects. Admittedly that's not nearly as rigorous as a fully rigorous Phase 0, but it will at least give you some bounds on serious side effects.

    As an aside on the normal pharmaceutical testing protocol, there are cases where severe or uniformly fatal diseases exist and people will die anyways. It took a long time to get the FDA to approve shorter protocols and widening Phase III trials to allow a chance of saving some dying patients with the study phase drugs; some of the AIDS drugs were the catalytic agent for that change. There are some cases where even a worst case - the drug kills everyone who takes it - would not be necessarily a societal or individual moral disaster compared to the underlying diseases.

    You should have enough risk mitigation from Phase 0 and Phase 1 that a wider Phase 2 in many acute or terminal conditions is entirely called for. A number of medical ethicists have commented that liability risks (someone will sue, even if their loved one would have died within a month anyways) and FDA inertia are holding back a number of treatments that fall into these categories.

    Just to be clear - The joint repair stem cells aren't relevant to that question - joint injuries and damage are a quality of life not survival disease.

  • Re:Like US in 1800s (Score:3, Informative)

    by JoshuaZ (1134087) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @05:33PM (#32516486) Homepage
    This is what happened with my little brother who has a related disease and had very nasty side effects from Reglan and is now on Domperidone. However, the background behind the issues with domperidone in the US are a bit more complicated than you describe. Domperidone was brought to the FDA as a lactation aid for nursing women. However, there were (and remain) serious concerns about the safety of that use (See for example URL:http://news.scotsman.com/childsaltpoisoningtrial/English-case-paves-way-for.2829892.jp). That matter has gotten domperidone tied up for approval for other things. So the real problem here is that the US system has trouble saying about a drug "This use is ok but this use is not." We have ways of doing that but they are slow and get tied up easily. So there are problems here but there's very little evidence that it has to do with lobbying. Indeed, note that Domperidone's primary manufacture is owned by Johnson & Johnson which is a very large company and which has lots of lobbyists. If this were just about lobbying, the would have won by now.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:11PM (#32517720) Homepage

    L. Ron, is that you?

    Essentially, albeit with much of L. Ron's venal cynicism replaced with actual batshittery. Wikipedia has information on the so-called Raëlian Movement [wikipedia.org], described as "the world's largest UFO religion."

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