May 2, 2014

Illegal Sale of Stem Cell Case Lands Engineer to Federal Prison

HOUSTON—Lawrence Stowe, 61, has been ordered to prison for his role in a conspiracy to introduce misbranded and unapproved new drugs into interstate commerce, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson along with Tommy Hennesy, resident agent in charge of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-Office of Criminal Investigations. Stowe pleaded guilty September 7, 2012.

Today, U.S. District Judge Gray Miller sentenced Lawrence Stowe, 61, a total sentence of 78 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. In handing down the sentence, Judge Miller emphasized that Stowe “…took advantage of people dying and offered them hope.” Restitution was also ordered in the amount of $419,358 to be paid jointly and severally with co-defendant Francisco Morales, 54, of Brownsville. Morales was previously sentenced to 60 months in prison.

Stowe, of Moline, Illinois, admitted that beginning in January 2006, he utilized several businesses, Stowe BioTherapy Inc. and The Stowe Foundation to advertise and promote a medical treatment protocol for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, and other neurological diseases. This treatment protocol, which was named “Applied Biologics,” consisted of supplements, vaccines, patient specific transfer factors and ultimately stem cell therapy. Stowe falsely represented to patients that this treatment protocol had been reviewed by all levels of the FDA and was effective in the treatment of ALS, MS, and Parkinson’s. There is currently no cure for these diseases.

At the hearing, testimony was presented by a sister of a victim in the scheme detailing how she cared for her brother in the last year of his life when he met Stowe and paid him $47,000 with the false hope of a cure. She said her brother did not have much cash, so the $47,000 was all his savings. Her brother was preyed upon and never helped medically by Stowe, she said.

“Preying on those who are among our most vulnerable consumers—those who are without hope of a cure for their conditions—is illegal and just plain wrong,” said Hennesy. “The FDA helps protect the public health, and we will move firmly against those who attempt to profit from the sale of false hope and fraudulent health products.”

Stowe entered a plea of guilty to conspiring with Morales and others to introduce supplements, vaccines, and stem cells that were not approved by the FDA, as well as introducing a misbranded and unapproved new drug called Immune Factor G-40 into interstate commerce, which had not been reviewed or approved by the FDA for human use.

Stowe further admitted that one of the unapproved drug products was a product called patient specific transfer factors. In order to produce this product, he obtained the services of a pathologist in Bryan/College Station. He then directed patients to send samples of their blood to the pathologist for the purpose of growing bacteria that would later be used to create the patient specific transfer factors. Stowe hired a laboratory in South Carolina to receive the bacteria which was then fed to chickens. The eggs produced by these chickens were later freeze dried, and the powder from the eggs were placed in capsules and sold to patients. Stowe admitted he knew the manufacturing process and the product itself was not approved by the FDA for that treatment of human diseases.

This case was presented on the CBS News program 60 Minutes in January 2010.

Previously released on bond, Stowe was permitted to remain on bond and voluntarily surrender to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

The cases were investigated by the FDA and the FBI with assistance from Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation. Former Assistant United States Attorney Samuel Louis and Assistant U.S. Attorney Cedric L. Joubert prosecuted the case with assistance of Carol Wallack with the Department of Justice Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch.