The Ministry of Health is considering developing new regulations to protect patients who will undergo stem cell treatment in Bermuda.
The proposal — which would cover desperately ill people flying to the Brown-Darrell Clinic in Winterhaven, Smith’s — comes after vociferous complaints from international doctors about the Island’s lack of legislation.
Breaking his silence on the controversial topic by responding to Parliamentary Questions from Shadow Health Minister Louise Jackson, Health Minister Nelson Bascome also revealed the clinic will only be treating foreigners.
Asked by Mrs. Jackson whether moves are being made to oversee patient protection, Mr. Bascome replied: “There presently does exist a qualified, independent, ethical review committee which has a remit over services provided by the Bermuda Hospitals Board.
“The Ministry of Health is presently considering the development of a regulatory framework for any therapeutic or research stem cell treatment in Bermuda.”
The Brown-Darrell Clinic — a partnership between Premier Ewart Brown, his wife Wanda, and California-based Stemedica — was initially scheduled to open in 2007.
However, no information on the project has been provided since International Society For Stem Cell Research president George Daley was extremely critical of any group running experimental treatment in jurisdictions without regulatory oversight.
Dr. Daley warned patients not to be misled into thinking stem cells are a miracle cure.
Asked by Mrs. Jackson whether any patients have been involved in stem cell treatment in Bermuda in the past two years, the Minister replied: “The Honourable Minister is not aware of any medical patient that has been part of a therapeutic or research programme in Bermuda involving stem cell treatments in the last two years.”
Asked for details of any application or intention by a medical practice to use stem cell treatments, Mr. Bascome replied: “No medical practitioner has to make application to open a medical practice in Bermuda.
“The Government is aware that one entity intends to participate in a clinical trial utilising adult stem cell treatments that will not involve Bermudian patients.”
Brown-Darrell has previously pledged to welcome and encourage legislation consistent with the international protocol practised by countries engaged in stem cell work, but has repeatedly failed to respond when asked if it will postpone opening the stem cell side of its operation until such legislation is in place.
Contacted yesterday afternoon for more details on the proposed regulations, the Ministry of Health said a response would be given early this week.
from Royal Gazette