Did a stem cell treatment administered by an alternative health/wellness center in the Philippines, which counts a former President as a client, cause the death of 23-year-old cancer patient Kate Tan?
According to Bernard Tan, father of the patient who died last July 2013, his daughter underwent stem cell treatment at the Green & Young Health & Wellness Center in Tagaytay City, Philippines. He adds that they decided to seek treatment at the center after ex-President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo underwent a stem cell procedure to cure her ailing cervical spine.
Mr. Tan reveals that her daughter was given the same treatment as ex-President Arroyo which included juicing diet, vegetable diet, acupuncture, coffee enema, and eight rounds of stem cells. He was assured that Kate will get well in three months but her condition worsened prompting his family to consult another doctor but to no avail.
As to why his family decided to seek treatment at the alternative health center, GMA News quotes Mr. Tan as saying:
He added that his family was easily convinced to take their daughter to Park’s wellness center because “Presidente na ng Pilipinas ang pumunta doon. Siguro naman na-scrutinize na nila ‘yan, na-background check na nila ‘yan. Kumbaga, ‘yung credibility no’n, nag-build up na.” (… because the ex-President of the Philippines already went there. Surely they scrutinized it, conducted background checks. In effect the clinic’s credibility has been built up.)
The Tan family has filed a complaint against Dr. Carandang-Park before the National Bureau of Investigation after they discovered that she is not licensed to practice medicine in the Philippines.
For its part, the Green & Young Health and Wellness Center admits that Kate was treated to their clinic but claims that she was “was never given stem cell treatment by the Center or Dr. Antonia Park”. It also asserts that it is being unfairly singled out despite the fact that the Tans brought Kate to “many other physicians” before she died. From a statement released Green & Young Wellness Center (via interaksyon.com):
Mr. Bernard Tan, the father who brought his daughter to many other physicians right before Ms. Tan died, and long after she visited the Center in July 2012, should show to the public the competent and actual medical findings showing cause of death. All hospitals where she was admitted and all doctors who treated her right before she died should be investigated. An autopsy be conducted to ascertain real and actual cause of death. Only in this manner can the issue be resolved.
Stem cell treatment is rapidly becoming commonplace in the Philippines prompting 21 medical organizations to call for stricter regulations of stem cell products and physicians doing the transplant. Here’s the statement issued by said organizations:
Stem cell therapy for unproven indications is proliferating in the Philippines and posing serious safety issues to unknowing clients. Alarmed by these uncontrolled practices which may include false claims, misinformation and exorbitant fees, We, the undersigned presidents of medical professional organizations, push the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue stricter regulations on stem cell therapy and declare the following to serve as guidelines for the general public:
1. Presently, stem cell therapy has been proven beneficial in very few medical conditions:
- cancers of the blood and bone marrow, and
- some primary immune-deficiencies treated by autologous or allogenic stem cell transplants.
Stem cell therapy, as treatment for these conditions, should only be administered by trained professionals working in FDA accredited facilities.
2. The effectiveness and safety of stem cell therapy have yet to be proven in the following conditions (“unproven indications”): heart, lung, neurologic, skin, rheumatologic, kidney and gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, autism, cancer, aging and aesthetics, HIV AIDS and other conditions.
3. The use of stem cell therapy for these conditions should be confined to clinical studies, that is, properly designed studies that have been screened and approved by a duly constituted technical review board and ethics committee. Such studies should in fact be encouraged so that the potential benefits of stem cell therapy in these conditions can be documented.
When stem cell therapy is given under a clinical study, it is unethical to make patients pay for the treatment. The cost of treatment should be shouldered by the sponsor of the study.
4. Finally, we recognize and support Republic Act (RA) No. 3720, as amended by RA No. 9711, which mandates the FDA: “to conduct appropriate tests on all applicable health products prior to the issuance of appropriate authorizations to ensure safety, efficacy, purity, and quality” Section 4h); and “to develop and issue standards and appropriate authorizations that would cover establishments, facilities and health products” (Section 4m).
We urge the Department of Health through the Philippine FDA to strictly enforce its legal mandates and issue clearer regulations for stem cell therapy for practicing clinicians to safeguard the health of Filipinos. We urge the public to help stop those who seek to profit from the desperation and ignorance of others.
Please report immediately to the FDA any of the following:
- practice of stem cell therapy by persons or institutions not accredited by the FDA,
- promotion and use of stem cell therapy for unproven indications (as listed above), and
- acceptance of payments for stem cell therapy when used for these unproven indications.
Signatories to the above statement are:
Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine College of Geriatric Medicine, Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Philippine Society of Hematology and Blood Transfusion, Philippine Society of Nephrology, Philippine Neurological Society, Philippine Society of General Surgeons, Philippine College of Surgeons, Philippine Heart Association, Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Philippine Society of Medical Oncology, Diabetes Philippines, Philippine Society of General Medicine, Philippine Society for Vascular Surgery, Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Philippine Rheumatology Association, Philippine Society of Gastroenterology, Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Philippine Academy of Rehabilitation Medicine, Philippine Society of Nuclear Medicine, and Academy of Filipino Neurosurgeons.