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St. Pete stem cell company warned by feds over ‘unsubstantiated claims’ of coronavirus cure

The company, Stemedix, received a letter from the Federal Trade Commission.
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, U.S. health regulators OK'd the first coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home, a new approach that could help expand testing options in most states. The sample will still have to be shipped for processing back to LabCorp, which operates diagnostic labs throughout the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP)
This undated electron microscope image made available by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in February 2020 shows the Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Also known as 2019-nCoV, the virus causes COVID-19. The sample was isolated from a patient in the U.S. On Tuesday, April 21, 2020, U.S. health regulators OK'd the first coronavirus test that allows people to collect their own sample at home, a new approach that could help expand testing options in most states. The sample will still have to be shipped for processing back to LabCorp, which operates diagnostic labs throughout the U.S. (NIAID-RML via AP) [ ASSOCIATED PRESS | NIAID-RML via AP ]
Published Apr. 24, 2020

A St. Petersburg-based stem cell therapy company, Stemedix, Inc., was one of the latest batch of businesses to receive a warning letter from the Federal Trade Commission for making “unsubstantiated claims that their products and therapies can treat or prevent coronavirus (COVID-19),” the agency announced Friday.

Earlier this month, agency staff reviewed Stemedix’s website and found claims that “one surprising treatment has demonstrated efficacy for combatting the illness: stem cell therapy,” directing website users to “find out more about the virus and how stem cell therapy has already helped an infected patient make a remarkable recovery,” according to the warning letter.

The company’s site also said “it’s clear that the treatment could be the antidote to the deadliest cases” of coronavirus, according to the letter, which was first reported by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

In response, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Stemedix to “immediately cease” making such claims, pointing out that it is illegal to promote that a product cures or prevents a disease unless it’s backed by comprehensive scientific research.

Fred Palmer, a director of operations for Stemedix, said Friday that they had never intended to mislead, and the text that the Federal Trade Commission cited was from a post on their website’s “educational blog” that “regurgitates” news articles.

This particular blog post cited an article from China about a woman with coronavirus who benefited from stem cell therapy, he said. Palmer said they electronically received the warning letter last Friday and immediately took the post down.

“There’s no way we’re going to move forward with any coronavirus news because I know it’s heightened right now,” he said. “No way I’m tangling with the FTC.”

The company is headquartered in St. Petersburg but also has locations in Delray Beach, Arizona and Costa Rica.

It wasn’t the only Florida company that was among the 21 businesses most recently issued warning letters. Two other companies, one in Fort Lauderdale and the other in Miami, had both promoted Vitamin C as a prevention tool and potential cure, the agency said.

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