Our ethical commitment
Recently, an interest group raised questions about the development and manufacture of NEOCUTIS products, which are dispensed by physicians for the treatment of skin conditions and to promote skin restoration after medical procedures. We respect differing views on medical research practices and on the development of pharmaceutical and cosmetic treatments. However, it is important that any discussion of our products be based on an accurate and well-informed understanding of their origin, production and use.
Since the 1930s, the international medical community has used donated fetal tissue to better understand cell biology and as an essential tool in the development of vaccines, which are credited with saving millions of lives worldwide. The 1954 Nobel Prize for medicine was awarded to researchers who utilized fetal kidney cells to develop the polio vaccine. Soon, patients who have suffered a severe burn, leg ulcer or wound—or are recovering from surgery—will heal faster, more safely and with far less scarring thanks to the emergence of new treatments developed from cultured fetal skin cells. Our view—which is shared by most medical professionals and patients—is that the limited, prudent and responsible use of donated fetal skin tissue can continue to ease suffering, speed healing, save lives, and improve the well-being of many patients around the globe.
Of course, the important question is: How does the medical community do this in a way that is respectful of the dignity of human life, and that is conducted in a highly controlled and responsible manner? This is an understandable concern that we take very seriously. The small skin donation that, ultimately, made the development of our treatment possible originated from a single terminated pregnancy that could not survive to term and was deemed medically necessary by the attending physicians. This voluntary donation to medical research was granted by the parents with their written consent, and was performed in adherence with strict Swiss laws that regulate organ donations and similar procedures.
To be clear, our products do not directly use the originally donated tissue in any way. We only use proteins derived from cultured skin cells (grown from a dedicated cell bank). These were not embryonic stem cells. No other donation will ever be necessary. In fact, this cell bank enables the production of some 900 million biological bandages for patients suffering from severe wounds, burns and other serious skin conditions.
We recognize that there are those who oppose any use of fetal skin tissue, regardless of the benefit or how it is obtained. Our belief is the extremely limited use of fetal skin tissue, obtained with the consent of parents, ethics committees and others in a well-monitored and respectful manner can be used for significant medical benefit.