A 29-year-old athlete and businessman will continue to receive stem cell treatment for muscular dystrophy, after the Delhi High Court, as an interim measure, said the treatment being provided to him “will not be impeded”.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru’s direction came after Aditya Bhatia approached the court, praying that he be permitted to continue to avail human embryonic stem cell therapy being provided by a Delhi-based clinic.
Bhatia was diagnosed in 2012 with Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), a rare genetic disorder that degenerates muscles. Senior counsel Chetan Sharma and advocate Mansi Sinha, appearing for Bhatia, contended that there is no other treatment for the condition.
The counsel told the court the treatment is helping Bhatia, and that it would jeopardise his condition if it is discontinued.
The Indian Express had earlier reported that Bhatia’s treatment was being affected as the Union Health Ministry on March 19 notified the New Drugs and Clinical Trial Rules, 2019, which classified “stem cell derived products” as “new drugs” for the first time.
The writ petition states that under Article 21 of the Constitution, Bhatia’s fundamental right to life and personal liberty was being violated with discontinuation of the treatment he was receiving.
Following the Ministry’s direction, the clinic from where Bhatia was getting treatment informed him it could no longer continue the stem cell treatment, as following the inclusion of stem cells and related products to the list of ‘new drugs’, any company or clinic needed permission of a central licencing authority to provide such treatment.
In his petition, Bhatia argued that approvals for stem cells would take months, while causing “debilitating effects” on him.
Additional Solicitor General Maninder Acharya, appearing for the Central government, stated there is no clarity as to whether the treatment being provided to Bhatia fell within the said rules, as no particulars of the same had been submitted by the clinic.“…This court considers it apposite to direct, as an interim measure, that the treatment being provided to the petitioner will not be impeded,” the court held.
It added: “This is subject to clinic in question submitting all information as to the treatment being afforded to the CDSO, within a period of one week from today.”