I met Camillo Ricordi just once. In my life as in my job, I have no enemies to strike or friends to justify. However, public behaviour and coherence inside and outside our profession are essential, if we want to be credible. Ricordi, in my opinion, is not. His public behaviour “not in favour or against” a State fraud that is damaging the patients is not excusable (especially, I would say) if you have a “big name”.
His attempt to get credits by “discrediting Italian science and medicine”, as we could not fully comprehend what Stamina is doing, is not excusable.
As I already stated at the Healthcare Commission of the Senate and according to what we have been told by the media, this story seems to exist surely not because there is a “method” (which does not exist) or “two improvisers” whom not even a Biology students would listen to, but because:
- Within the Lombardy healthcare management and also in a public hospital, some saw in the “nonsense Stamina” a “cure” for themselves and/or their relatives at the expense of our National Healthcare System. Evidences were lacking, as, of course, was the national approval, but in front of your loved ones’ disease, how could you say no? Therefore, instead of working from a basement in Turin, in San Marino o somewhere else in Eastern Europe, the medical “nonsense” managed to enter an Italian public hospital. Was there any offence or abuse behind this entrance? Which role did the regional and local healthcare management play, or the local ethics committee? What informed consent forms were signed and by whom, who did formally authorize the infusions in Brescia, how could the Medical Board (which one? The local one or the national one?) or the clinicians of a public hospital tolerate that unknown preparations (few weeks ago the hospital management did confirmed that they were unknown) were injected to their patients? All these questions need answers.
- Before entering a public hospital, these patients were paying big amounts to the Stamina Foundation. The Foundation management explained: “only some patients were paying 30,000 or 50,000 euros, others who could not afford it, were not. In practice, those who could were paying for the others”. But did they know it? When Stamina entered the public hospital, these costs passed on the State’s bill. Whoever was treated in Brescia, the alleged relatives or the healthcare managers themselves, did not spend one euro. The State paid, the same one that does not have enough money for bandages and syringes for those hospitals administering certified therapies.
- There has been a deafening silence from an important hospital of North Italy, with its renewed clinicians. Only few professionals partly raised their voices to take some distance. How did such a solid part of Italian Medicine fall under this kind of collective hypnosis? Each practitioner, each authority has the moral and professional obligation to contribute to this clarification. Still, it is a fact that in Brescia hospital a graduate in Literature “entered the hospital access codes” and even signed the certificates attesting that Stamina preparations were free from pathogens. Despite the Italian Agency of Medicine (AIFA)’s intervention in May 2012 - with a ban ordinance that is a competence masterpiece - for the protection of patients against frauds, nobody kicked Stamina out of the hospital, the State, the World, as it would have happened for much less serious cases in the United States or in Germany.
- The patients, pushed by Stamina, appealed to court. Judges ordered to administer “the never-therapy” acknowledging the patients’ right to be treated “even if the cure does not exist”. This decision has been taken upon “illegal” medical prescriptions. These “cures” were authorized, in fact, based on requisites and authorizations provided by Stamina Foundation itself. In the meantime, Ezio Belleri, Brescia extraordinary commissioner, finally understood that something was wrong and called a halt. But nothing more. (How could judges not understand that Stamina does not even have the requisites for the MD Turco Fazio 2006 or the 2003 MD for “compassionate care”?)
- Politicians just looked away. It is not their field and they do not know yet how to refer to the professionals who are at the Country’s service. There was the horrific Balduzzi decree on March 2013, followed by another action by the Parliament - with the Chamber of Deputies urged to fix a serious mistake that had even worsened the decree, approved by a just appointed Senate, unready for examining the documents purposely ruffled up for confounding everything. It was May 2013 when they approved the State experimentation of “nothing”. Then, the brave Minister Beatrice Lorenzin consulted her scientific commission that called for a halt. The whole world knew that there was sand or physiologic solution in those infusions (that we paid, including the state planes that brought patients from one place to another for useless bone cell sampling, cells to be transformed in inexistent neurons). Italy seemed to have been formally saved, even though some judges “went on doing their job” and kept prescribing “the never-therapy”. At this point, the TAR (Regional Administrative Court) of Lazio Region intervened stating that the Minister Lorenzin Scientific Committee was not impartial. Back to the start. It really looks like someone is very interested in experimenting this “nothing” at the expense of the State. Could there be any political pressure behind? Even the graduate in Literature who “invented the method” (falsified and copied by Russian “science”) depositing it at the Ministry of Health the last August and obtaining to keep it secret (why? It was already well known, by reading the response by the Patent Office in the US, that there was no method, only dead cells), said that there was nothing to experiment and that Italy should have saved those 3 million. Besides, as he explained, the SMA (flag disease of the Stamina “cure” and of a TV program on “Stamina”) should not have been included in the experimentation of his “method” since it is such a variable disease that it is impossible in (only?!)18 months to observe any benefits.
- Now it is the turn of a famous academic from Miami, a diabetes specialist, a name, but not in Neurology. His declarations on Stamina should cause disconcert in the whole Italian academic, scientific and medical world. In this already complicated situation, Ricordi stated he is “not against on in favour” of a charlatan who says he can transform “shoes” into “chickens” simply covering them in parsley for 2 hours. Then he points out that, even though the shoe cannot actually become a chicken in vitro, it could be transformed in vivo. Ricordi takes part to a TV show and, talking about Stamina, alludes to the misunderstood science of Galileo Galilei and Copernicus. Speaking about the stopped clinical experimentation (by minister Lorenzin and with the agreement of the graduate in Literature, Vannoni), he says that “not doing it is criminal and, after all, 3 million” – not his money – “are just nothing”. Considering he is a diabetes specialist, his declaration released to La Stampa on “Stamina method”: “neurons are made, in vitro, in vivo from mesenchymal cells”, are disconcerting.
Ricordi is not credible in his positions on Stamina and he is damaging Italy.