Sun, Jun 10, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Cell transplant bill might pass by August: ministry

BENEFICIAL:Hospitals worldwide have already done extensive clinical testing on various cell transplant procedures, a former minister of health and welfare said

By Wu Liang-yi and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang speaks at a news conference in Taipei on July 26 last year.

PHoto: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times

Burn victims and people with viral infections stand to benefit from proposed law amendments as doctors could gain approval to conduct cell and bacteria transplants as early as August, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said.

A law governing the inspection and supervision of special medical treatments and related apparatus, which was ratified on Dec. 29, 2015, is to be updated to include cell and bacteria transplant procedures, including those for burn victims and viral infections such as Clostridium difficile, the ministry said.

The law would be amended to include six cell therapy procedures, 10 special medical procedures and 11 pieces of medical equipment used in the special procedures, the ministry said, adding that the procedures and equipment would need to conform to certain requirements before being used by hospitals.

A fecal microbiota transplant, which is used in many countries to treat patients who contract Clostridium difficile — a potentially fatal bacterial infection caused by ingestion of infected feces — must conform to many requirements before it can be implemented as a routine procedure, it said.

Hospitals using the procedure must be qualified teaching hospitals, have doctors who conform to certain training requirements and have equipment that meets certain standards, the ministry said.

Patients undergoing the procedure must have first been given standard treatment and experienced reinfection, it said, adding that both the patient and donor of the healthy fecal bacteria must sign consent forms.

Numerous theses on the fecal microbiota transplant, as well as successful applications of the procedure, indicate that it is safe and effective, ministry Department of Medical Affairs Director-General Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) said.

There is a consensus among the nation’s medical professionals that the procedure should be available in Taiwan’s hospitals, Shih said.

Former minister of health and welfare Lin Tzou-yien (林奏延) said he supports the implementation of cell transplant operations, as hospitals worldwide have already done extensive clinical testing on various cell transplant procedures.

Treatments for dementia, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, drug-resistant bacterial infections and other illnesses have been implemented in other countries, he said.

“I hope Taiwan’s hospitals and academics can speed up clinical testing so that more patients can benefit” from cell-transplant procedures, Lin said.

The ministry is also planning to implement six procedures that involve taking cells from healthy parts of a patient’s body, it said, adding that patients who have burns or other types of skin damage, as well as those with degenerative arthritis, could benefit.

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