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2 Patients Die After Receiving Stem Cell Treatment Abroad

2 Patients Die After Receiving Stem Cell Treatment Abroad

Posted October. 23, 2010 13:32,   


Two patients who received stem cell treatment in China and Japan have died, an opposition lawmaker in Korea said Friday.

At the parliamentary inspection of the government, Democratic Party lawmaker Joo Sung-young said, “A 73-year-old patient who was administered stem cell medicine at a Tokyo medical clinic that is a partner of RNL Bio died Sept. 30 from pulmonary embolism.”

Pulmonary embolism is blockage of the main artery of the lung or one of its branches.

The patient signed a one-year medical tourism contract with the biomedical company and went to Japan to get treatment.

A person who received stem cell treatment testified on the adverse effects of the treatment. “I got aging prevention treatment in a Chinese clinic Aug. 12 for 15 million won (13,300 U.S. dollars). Since then, I`ve developed cancer in the neck,” she said.

She said she introduced her friend to the clinic but the latter lost consciousness while getting a stem cell injection and died. “If a person introduces another to RNL, the company gives a commission,” she said.

Lee Jeong-seop, head of the bio department at the Korea Food and Drug Administration, said, “We`ve received reports on the deaths of two patients who got stem cell treatment in China and Japan,” adding, “RNL Bio is conducting three clinical trials for stem cell medicines but we`ve yet to verify their safety and efficiency.”

RNL has partnerships with eight hospitals in China, Japan and the U.S., and is known to treat more than 8,000 patients at these hospitals. The company circumvents Korean laws on pharmacists, medical care and bioethics, however, by giving medical procedures banned in Korea overseas.

Korea also bans medical tours that attract patients to make profits but patients can dodge this limit by going abroad.

Another person testified that the company avoided violating Korean medical law by receiving treatment costs worth tens of thousands of dollars in the form of donations for clinical trials.

Oh Il-hwan, head of the functional cell treatment center at the School of Medicine of Catholic University of Korea, said, “If cohesion happens in the process of stem cell creation, this can block peripheral blood vessels,” adding, “Adverse effects such as pulmonary embolism or lymphoma have become well known through clinical trials on animals.”

RNL defended itself by saying, “Very few of the patients who received stem cell treatment have died and the causal relationship between the treatment and the deaths has not been established. The treatment has no procedural problems."