Officials say Omaha stem cell firm cheated patients in Iowa, Nebraska

Nebraska News

The vacant offices of the Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging Institute in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, July 16, 2020. The attorneys general of Iowa and Nebraska each filed a lawsuit against Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging Institutes of Omaha, alleging that company officials used high-pressure sales tactics to offer unproven stem-cell treatments for back pain, lung ailments and even Alzheimer’s disease. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

OMAHA, Neb. (AP/KCAU) — Officials say an Omaha health clinic that offered unproven stem cell treatments for joint pain, erectile dysfunction, and Alzheimer’s disease cheated consumers in Iowa and Nebraska out of at least $2.8 million.

The attorneys general of Iowa and Nebraska each filed a lawsuit against Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging Institutes of Omaha, alleging that company officials made misleading statements about the effectiveness of their treatments.

According to the lawsuit, company officials claimed they could reverse the aging process and treat conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, neuropathy, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, and erectile dysfunction.

They say company officials targeted mostly elderly customers with local television advertisements and in-person seminars with high-pressure sales tactics.

The vacant offices of the Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging Institute in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, July 16, 2020. The attorneys general of Iowa and Nebraska each filed a lawsuit against Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging Institutes of Omaha, alleging that company officials used high-pressure sales tactics to offer unproven stem-cell treatments for back pain, lung ailments and even Alzheimer’s disease. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said in his lawsuit that the advertisements made deceptive and misleading claims and there were more than 90 live events that were held throughout the state from April 2018 to September 2019.

His lawsuit was filed on Thursday in the Polk County District Court.

Miller alleges that the company’s salespeople used those sales tactics to persuade possibly hundreds of Iowans to buy unproven procedures that ranged from $1,400 to more than $27,000 and aren’t covered by health insurance.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved stem cell therapy to treat patients with disorders that affect the hematopoietic system, which is involved in the production of blood.

The therapy is still in the beginning stages of research as applied to various other medical problems and hasn’t been scientifically established as safe and effective.

The vacant offices of the Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging Institute in Omaha, Neb., Thursday, July 16, 2020. The attorneys general of Iowa and Nebraska each filed a lawsuit against Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging Institutes of Omaha, alleging that company officials used high-pressure sales tactics to offer unproven stem-cell treatments for back pain, lung ailments and even Alzheimer’s disease. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)

“Stem cells hold great potential to treat or even cure diseases, but some providers are exploiting that promise to make misleading and unfounded claims,” said Iowa AG Miller. “The defendants are an example of the ‘unscrupulous providers’ that the FDA and others have warned consumers about.” 

In addition to the Regenerative Medicine and Anti-Aging Institutes of Omaha, the defendants in the lawsuit are related entities Omaha Stem Cells LLC and Stem Cell Centers of Anchorage, Alaska, and their owners, CEO Travis Autor, Emily Autor, and COO Mike Pavey.

AG Miller’s office is seeking an injunction against the defendants, consumer restitution, and civil penalties of up to $40,000 for each violation of the Consumer Fraud Act and $5,000 for each violation of the Older Iowans Law.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson filed a similar lawsuit on Thursday against the stem cell therapy providers.

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