Agencies mum on Regenetek
Won't reveal if city firm being investigated
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/01/2015 (3058 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
News that a Winnipeg man falsified his credentials and charged chronically ill people thousands of dollars to participate in a questionable clinical trial has prompted health officials, regulators and police to pass the buck.
Meanwhile, Doug Broeska and his associates, including a Winnipeg physician, are in Trinidad this week preparing to open a new stem-cell clinic.
So far, at least three people have filed complaints with the RCMP about Broeska and his Winnipeg firm, Regenetek Research. The earliest complaints were filed in the summer of 2013 in Alberta and Manitoba. Another complaint was lodged in Saskatchewan last month.
RCMP would not say whether they are actively investigating Broeska and Regenetek. The three people who lodged the complaints told the Free Press they have not been contacted since their initial contact with RCMP.
In the last three years, Regenetek charged about 70 people as much as $45,000 for stem-cell treatment in India that Broeska claimed would halt the progress of multiple sclerosis and, more recently, Lou Gehrig’s disease.
“Each and every one of over 60 patients in the trial has demonstrated significant functional improvement with enduring effect,” Broeska wrote on his website. “Many have returned to complete health without symptoms, and some have been declared ‘disease-free’ by their neurologist.”
But, a Free Press investigation found at least half a dozen patients experienced no improvement after travelling to India. And Broeska overstated the ethical approvals awarded to his clinical trial and falsified his credentials, claiming to have a PhD when he does not. In December, the Indian hospital where the stem-cell treatments are performed asked Broeska to step down as principal investigator, claiming he was putting patient safety at risk.
Despite these revelations, the only agency that appears to be investigating is the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA would not confirm it is looking into Regenetek’s finances, but sources say an active investigation has begun.
Alberta patient Lee Chuckry, whose MS has confined him to a scooter and who is a critic of Regenetek, also complained to Health Canada in 2013.
Health Canada confirmed the complaint. “The necessary follow-up steps have been initiated and are ongoing,” Health Canada wrote in an email. Health Canada could not elaborate, but added any complaints about physicians should be reported to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba.
Manitoba Health Minister Sharon Blady offered the same advice.
“The college and the police would be the best places to start,” she said, adding her department knew nothing of Regenetek or Broeska until media reports emerged this week. She said she found the reports distressing. “I cannot imagine what these families have been going through.”
Broeska is not a physician, so the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba said its ability to investigate him is limited.
Broeska works closely with Susan Hauch, a Winnipeg physician who is listed as the co-owner of CliniCard Inc, a company related to Regenetek and located in the same office on Chevrier Boulevard. CliniCard calls itself “a pioneer in advanced card-based information and payment integration at the point of sale.”
Among the more than 10 patients who have spoken to the Free Press, most said “Dr. Susan” was a key contact in dealings with Regenetek. Many paid their fees to CliniCard, not Regenetek.
The college would not say if it had received any complaints about Hauch, whether it has launched its own investigation or whether it is taking action on the matter. Nor would it say whether it has launched an investigation under Section 5 of the Medical Act that bars people from giving medical advice if they are not registered health-care practitioners.
“The college cannot comment on an individual investigation regarding a physician unless there is a public discipline finding,” registrar Anna Ziomek wrote in an email.
Hauch, who is in Trinidad with Broeska, did not respond to messages, emails or texts.
The MS Society of Canada’s vice-president of research would also not comment directly on Regenetek or its clinical trials.
Melissa Martin reports and opines for the Winnipeg Free Press.