Rules set for stem cell in­dus­try

The Star Malaysia - - Nation -

KUALA LUMPUR: Guide­lines for cell and gene ther­apy prod­ucts (CGTPs) is­sued by the Health Min­istry will be en­forced from 2021, says Dr Lee Boon Chye.

The Deputy Health Min­is­ter said it was to give stem cell in­dus­try play­ers time to adopt the guide­lines as the min­istry did not want to ham­per the growth of the in­dus­try.

“We view this in­dus­try as im­por­tant even in its in­fancy stages,” he said at the Malaysian As­so­ci­a­tion for Cell Ther­apy (MACT) an­nual sym­po­sium at TPC Kuala Lumpur yes­ter­day.

He also said the Na­tional Blood Cen­tre was in­volved in fa­cil­i­tat­ing the in­dus­try’s growth through its cord blood bank and the Na­tional Stem Cell Co­or­di­nat­ing Cen­tre, set up in 2014.

“Th­ese are some of our ef­forts in de­vel­op­ing the in­dus­try,” he said.

MACT pres­i­dent Dr Lim Teck Onn said the ef­fec­tive use of stem cell for med­i­cal pur­poses was ev­i­dence-backed, but cell ther­apy might be con­tro­ver­sial for aes­thetic ap­pli­ca­tions.

“The use of stem cell for gen­uine med­i­cal ther­apy has never re­ally been an is­sue.

“There are data and proven tri­als and even US Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion-ap­proved in­di­ca­tions.

“The big prob­lem how­ever is its use in well­ness, anti-ag­ing and some beauty prod­ucts.

“As an in­dus­try as­so­ci­a­tion, we have an obli­ga­tion to make sure that com­pa­nies in­volved in th­ese ac­tiv­i­ties do so re­spon­si­bly and not take pa­tients and con­sumers for a ride,” he said.

On a sep­a­rate mat­ter, Dr Lee said they were also look­ing into the ap­peals by health­care in­dus­try play­ers, lob­by­ing for pa­tients’ right to im­port med­i­ca­tion for per­sonal con­sump­tion and ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment.

The im­port of med­i­ca­tion for per­sonal use, he said, was largely un­reg­u­lated as it was “vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble” to mon­i­tor thor­oughly.

But he added that such im­ported med­i­ca­tions should not ex­ceed a month’s sup­ply.

“On ex­per­i­men­tal treat­ment, pa­tients may seek such treat­ments so long as the prac­tis­ing doc­tor has been sub­ject to vig­or­ous med­i­cal ethics as­sess­ment,” he said.

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