The Texas Medical Board has approved new rules regulating adult stem cell therapies similar to the ones used to treat Governor Rick Perry last summer, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Friday.
The rules were drafted by the state board, which licenses and disciplines doctors, at the request of Houston’s Dr. Stanley Jones, the same man who in July 2011 injected Perry with the governor’s own stem cells in order to help him recover from a back injury, Nathan Koppel of the Wall Street Journal said.
Koppel noted that the new regulations will make it easier for medical professionals in Texas to offer the experimental treatments without needing to obtain federal approval, while the AP added that the rules to require patients to provide their express consent to the procedure, as well as receive approval from a review board before the stem cell therapy is permitted to begin.
“We know this is far from a perfect policy, but our hope is that this affords people in Texas seeking this therapy some protection,” Texas Medical Board President Dr. Irwin Zeitler told Todd Ackerman of the Houston Chronicle. “The wheels of federal government move so slowly – we’re not willing to wait to protect our patients.”
The rules were approved by a 10-4 vote, and members of the board have promised that they will consider revising and improving the policy as early as June, when they meet again, Ackerman said. The official start date for the new policy was not announced, but staffers told the Chronicle that it will be at least 30 days.
While Perry has lauded the stem cell treatment he has received, not everyone shares his enthusiasm for the procedure, according to Minjae Park of the New York Times.
Some researchers argue that the evidence of stem cell injections is anecdotal in nature, and that the results of clinical trials should ideally be obtained before doctors are allowed to perform the treatment, which can cost tens of thousands of dollars, added Park.
Leigh Turner, a professor at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Bioethics, told the New York Times, that there were “some real problems” with the Texas regulations, adding that the “protective mechanism that they’re focusing on” would not be able to do terribly much.
Mario Salinas, the director of Texans for Stem Cell Research, countered that the rules would protect patients and help eliminate treatments without some kind of oversight. As he told Park, “Doing something at this point is better than doing nothing… This is just the first step.”