Health Minister Nelson Bascome on January 28 said his Ministry will not be doing anything about Bermuda’s lack of adult stem cell regulations at this stage — but pledged to ensure good practices would be in place before a stem cell clinic opens.
At a news conference yesterday about a revised Bermuda Health Council, Mr. Bascome was questioned about his position on the Brown-Darrell Clinic, which is scheduled to open early this year.
When asked specifically about introducing legislation to effectively monitor and regulate the clinic, the Minister said nothing had come across his desk.
He said: “Anything that has to do with health in Bermuda will come across the desk of the Health Minister. Right now and I told the media last week, we put out the regulations for medical clinics.
“As the development of that clinic goes and other clinics on the Island, in terms of health we will ensure best practices and that the public is protected and at this time that is all we can say because there have been no official applications that have come across my desk.
“Until we see something that has to be affected by legislation I cannot really answer. It would have to be something proposed to use to deal with.”
In June last year, Premier Ewart Brown and his wife Wanda announced the opening of a stem cell research clinic in partnership with the American company Stemedica Cell Technologies on the site of the former Winterhaven property in Smith’s.
Since then, doctors have aired concerns about the lack of adult stem cell regulations in Bermuda, compared with jurisdictions such as the US, Canada and the UK, where the practice is heavily monitored by legislation introduced by those governments.
George Daley, president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, has said he is very sceptical of anyone running adult stem cell treatment in jurisdictions where there is no regulatory oversight.
Last year in response to concern raised by the United Bermuda Party about the lack of regulation the Foreign and Commonwealth office wrote a letter stating it understood the opposition’s concern. It further stated: “Bermuda may want to consider the introduction of legislation to enable internationally recognised stem cell research and treatment to take place within a transparent and well regulated framework.”
The clinic has previously stated it would welcome and encourage legislation consistent with the international protocol practised by countries engaged in stem cell research.
However, it has failed to reply when asked whether it would postpone opening until such legislation is in place.
From Royal Gazette