I’ve been ‘scammed’: doctor
U of M associate professor says researcher misled her about MS treatment
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This article was published 19/01/2015 (2982 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The Winnipeg physician who worked closely with a now-discredited medical researcher says she was “duped” by Doug Broeska and is shocked by recent revelations.
“Scammed, yes. Duped, yes,” said Susan Hauch, a physician and associate professor at the University of Manitoba medical school. “We’ve all been duped.”
She said she’s shocked by news Broeska inflated his credentials, overstated the effects of the stem cell treatment and was asked recently by an Indian ethics committee to resign as the study’s principal investigator because he put patient safety at risk. “It’s very unfortunate things had to come out this way because it’s shattered a lot of lives,” Hauch said by phone Sunday. “This has been a very shocking situation.”
For the last three years, patients with multiple sclerosis and, more recently, Lou Gehrig’s disease, have paid Broeska’s Winnipeg company, Regenetek Research, as much as $45,000 to travel to Pune, India, for stem cell treatment. That’s despite ethics rules that bar doctors from charging patients to be part of clinical trials.
While many Regenetek patients saw their MS symptoms shrink, many others did not, and began raising questions about Broeska and his treatment.
Broeska was in Trinidad last week, meeting with medical researchers from India to open another clinic.
Hauch was in Trinidad last week with Broeska but said she has no involvement in plans to expand the stem cell clinic to the Caribbean country. She said she travelled to Trinidad to meet with representatives from Inamdar Hospital in Pune to discuss plans for a companion study on physiotherapies for stem cell patients. That study was to be done in conjunction with the University of Winnipeg, but the school cut ties with Regenetek last week following a Free Press investigation.
Manitoba company records list Hauch as a director, along with Broeska, 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, which was listed as a non-profit corporation on the federal government’s website last fall.
Hauch wrote letters for some patients, saying the stem cell therapy is neither available nor sanctioned in Canada. That letter was needed to obtain medical visas to travel to India.
On Sunday, Hauch said she’s not Broeska’s business partner, but is a shareholder in his firm. She said her relationship with Broeska and Regenetek has been mischaracterized, but declined to elaborate, saying she first wanted to speak to her lawyer and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba.
Questions about Broeska’s credentials and the veracity of his claims about the treatment and the clinical trials have been percolating for years, especially in online forums for MS patients.
“He kept an awful lot to himself,” said Hauch. “There were an awful lot of questions along the way.”
In emails to the Free Press, the CBC and patients in recent days, Broeska has vigorously denied the allegations about him and Regenetek.
He said he stands behind his company’s role in the clinical study, which he said was only to track patients upon their return from India.
“We are scientists simply tracking the progress of participants who have chosen to attempt innovative therapy options and to have their results noted by us for scientific study,” said Broeska in a statement. “This study is unlike, for example, standard double-blind randomized controlled drug trials, but rather is a case study series on a person-by-person basis. As such, the standards and protocols discussed in the media are poorly understood and have resulted in this clinical study being mischaracterized as inappropriate.”
Melissa Martin reports and opines for the Winnipeg Free Press.