FDA Moves in Court to Close Two Stem Cell Clinic Chains Previously ID’d as “Bad Actors”

By Chris Centeno, MD /

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In a move that took few by surprise, the FDA has filed a pair of requests for permanent injunctions against US Stem Cell in Florida and Cell Surgical Network in California. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end for the out-of-control, stem cell wild west, but we still have a nation of chiropractic clinic scams that have yet to be dealt with by the agency. Let me explain.

What Did the FDA Shut Down?

The type of stem cell-therapy clinic that the FDA is focused on right now as “bad actors” is what I call the “fat stem cell miracle cure” outfits. These clinics perform a liposuction and then use an enzyme to digest the structural portion of the fat and then process it further to collect the stem cell fraction. This is called SVF (stromal vascular fraction), which is usually injected IV (intravenous) to try to cure any number of incurable diseases, from ALS to MS to normal aging.

What’s the History Behind This Action?

Way back in 2012, the FDA made it clear that SVF was a drug that would require full clinical trials per medical indication. They have sent out numerous warning letters to various companies since. Both of the companies that were shut down in this action refused to recognize the FDA’s authority to regulate SVF. In addition, both continued to treat patients with risky therapeutic approaches. For example, US Stem Cell in Florida was involved in the treatment of multiple patients who went blind after a nonphysician injected SVF into their eyeballs. Cell Surgical Network was involved in a therapy using the smallpox virus and SVF to treat cancer patients.

To learn more about FDA regulation in this space and what’s legal and what’s not, please see my recent regulatory lecture:

Why Is This FDA Action a Net Positive for Regenerative Medicine?

We have the stem cell wild west out there, and it’s way out of control. Hence, this action is the first step in cleaning that up. Next up will be the crazy chiro clinics using nonphysicians to inject dead amniotic tissue as a live stem cell “cure all.” I’m pretty sure we’ll see action in that round not only against clinics but also against the manufacturers of the amniotic and cord blood tissue products claiming that their dead products have live stem cells. Why? Some of these companies are incorrigible and are violating FDA regulations day in and day out as well as defrauding consumers.

We saw the first domino fall in that world just last week as the North Dakota attorney general’s office took down a chiro clinic offering dead amniotic tissue injections to vulnerable elderly patients. Despite that action, that “bad actor” clinic still has facilities in California and Colorado. What was interesting about that action is that the nonphysicians performing the injections were also fined.

The upshot? The stem cell wild west is just a little less out of control after these FDA actions. However, it’s clear to me that the agency’s next target will be the even more out-of-control sales pitches of amniotic and cord tissue vendors and their sales reps. So stay tuned…”Same bat time, same bat channel…”

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8 thoughts on “FDA Moves in Court to Close Two Stem Cell Clinic Chains Previously ID’d as “Bad Actors”

  1. Jeannette Haines

    This action does not mean that with the right Doctors and procedures that it is not a procedure that makes since. If the FDA would recognize the procedure and regulate it and the doctors than there would not be a problem. So far the FDA has not done a thing about this and as some other medical problems there are a lot of not really doctors or others out there that need to be regulated. As other medical problems there are so could doctors that are not really doctors.
    please do not shut this down because of a few quack’s.
    I personally am excellent health but support stem cells. It makes since to me if it is done professedly

  2. CJ Glynn

    Thanx for the update on fraudulent practices and practitioners!

  3. Robert Piersanti

    Are you claiming that all amniotic vendors are fraudulent, includine Mimedx?

    1. Chris Centeno Post author

      No, only the ones violating their 361 registration by claiming live cells and producing white papers with incomplete information, but still claiming live stem cells.

  4. Jeannie

    The false promises and preying on vulnerable people is the problem. I have witnessed one of the mentioned clinics in action and was appalled. More still, these people are guest speakers at renowned conferences. Why are non-scientific based lectures allowed at conferences?
    Unfortunately, people like this spoil Best Practice for the professional clinicians.

  5. KB

    But Dr. Centeno, I live in a state that would never allow a DC to supervise a midlevel. In States that ALLOW these MLs to practice autonomously, then they are within their scope of practice. Heck no, they would not inject me. But if it’s an autonomous state, then DC or MD shared office space or in a solo office, their States allow this. I wouldn’t let a midlevel do my procedure IF a physician is supervising them. It’s getting harder to find a regenerative clinic where the peripheral joints are being done by the MD. Most MDs are schlepping this off on their PAs and NPs around here. How is that any better? Very well known first generation prolo docs have PAs doing this and publishing PA authoritative research and articles on behalf of their clinics.There are opthalmologist and urologist practicing RIT. It’s a head scratcher for sure. Yet, I am really concerned about FDA interceding. Had they done this 50 yrs. ago with prolo, we would never have advanced to where we are today. I hope their “regulations” don’t stymie the gains. After all, these therapies had a lot of unknowns when they started out both to the physician and patient. Thanks for leading the way in a manner befitting your profession.

  6. Janice Noce

    Hello, For some reason I have been dropped off your newsletter emails. Can I please be added back on? Thank you J

    1. Regenexx Team

      Hi Janice,
      Sorry for the inconvenience. We will look into it for you.

Chris Centeno, MD

Regenexx Founder

Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications.
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