Stem Cell Therapies In Mexico

Mexico passed a new legislation aimed at making use of stem cell therapy more steady
Stem cell therapy- A new legislation in Mexico

Federal legislation of Mexico took notice due to increase in foreign patients for medical care to the border state of Mexico. Thus, on December 7, 2011, the lower chamber passed a new progressive legislation focused on making the use of stem cell therapies more stable. Dr. Miguel Osuna Millan is a dentist and currently the head of the Health Commission at Federal Mexican Congress. He spoke of his motivation for developing the new legislation.

“The spirit of the reform was to make sure that what’s going on in the Mexican legislature is in keeping with what’s going on in the world,” he said.  “The idea is to save lives and to offer better quality of life.”

Dr. Rodrigo Robledo is commissioner of State Commission for Medical Arbitration, State of Baja California. According to him, 350,000 people comes to Mexico for medical treatment each year from California. Therefore, some travel to Baja California to get more affordable medical care. Whereas, some prefer the level of attention they get from their Mexican physicians. Many travel to Mexico for stem cell therapy, a treatment waiting for approval in their own country. Those who do not want to wait for FDA for approval or are afraid to receive a treatment that is in blind study, Mexico provides alternative treatment destination.

Changes by new legislation for stem cell therapies

  • Any clinic or hospital dealing with stem cells have to be licensed by federal government. Also, failure to meet the standards set by legislature and COFEPRIS (the Mexican equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) will face suspension, fines or license cancelation
  • To supervise their work, all providers have to establish a transplant and transfusion committee
  • Prohibited use of stem cells of animals origin
  • Permission to export stem cells or tissue
  • A new state-funded program allows new mothers to donate their newborns umbilical cord. Hence, assuring that blood on the cord is available to those who need it
  • Stipulation that stem cells obtain from bone marrow or placental blood should be limited to use in blood disease

Views on the new legislation

Millan believes that stem cells is another way to cure people. “I think that stem cells will become a regular form of treatment first in border cities due to the number of medical tourists. But I do believe that we are on the road to seeing stem cells available to everyone,” he said. Thus, he is proud of the fact that the umbilical cords that were once considered as waste, now can help save lives. Also that the stem cells that are not being use in Mexico is likely to save lives in other countries. “We used the European Union as a model,” said Millan. “In Spain, there was a surplus of stem cells and tissue that were send to countries with a deficit of these life-saving resources.”

Dr. Javier Lopez is CEO of Regenerative Medicine Institute, Mexico, in Tijuana. His clinical trial program will be on the front lines of these legislative changes. Also, he was among many physicians asked to consider in as the new law was authored. “The strength here is that most legislation in the world is form by politicians who are supporting some kind of special interest. Rather than bowing to powers like the pharmaceutical industry, this commission asked health professionals for their advice in order to position patient safety in front of all other interests,” he said.

Conclusion

This legislation will be another step towards reducing those concerns according to Millan and Lopez. “These laws create a legal frame work that allows COFEPRIS to have enough teeth to ensure that all stem cells programs in Mexico meet basic patient safety standards,” Lopez said.

Members of the lower chambers made this legislation possible. Furthermore, they put aside the politics to work together for a healthier Mexico. Not only will the Mexicans benefit, but also thousands of medical tourists who travel to Mexico every year. Millan concluded, “I hope this empowers all states to promote innovation and novel therapies in order to help the greatest number of people get well.”