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Wednesday, May 03, 2006
THE IRISH Medicines Board has confirmed it will investigate claims stem cell treatment was being offered on ferries between Cork and Wales in an attempt to avoid EU law which regulates stem cell usage.
The IMB had already begun a probe into the provision of the treatment to multiple sclerosis sufferers from a Carrigaline clinic — but will now expand its inquiry.
Such stem cell treatment is not licensed here as experts say insufficient research has been completed on its effectiveness for MS sufferers.
Swiss firm Advanced Cell Therapeutics (ACT) was planning to provide the service from Swansea-Cork Ferries ships as EU law, signed into Irish law last month, made it illegal here. Offering the service from international waters would have avoided sanction.
It’s believed the plans have since been halted but it’s not known if any 18,500 injections were administered. Swansea-Cork Ferries warned their staff that the provision of such treatment was to be halted if they suspected a clinic was being run during their crossing.
They also contacted ACT to express their anger and astonishment that such a service was being promoted without their permission.
It’s understood up to 100 MS sufferers were treated with stem cells in Cork in the two months leading up to the April 7 directive deadline, with 95-98% of them from Britain.
Up to 400 British MS sufferers were due to undergo stem cell treatment at the Carrigaline clinic before the directive halted the service.
An IMB spokeswoman said yesterday: "The IMB is aware of claims relating to the provision of stem cell treatment on board a ferry on international waters.
"This will form part of the IMB investigation into the provision of stem cell therapy."
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