Naturopaths ‘not tied to science’, argues lawyer in BC hearing on fecal transplants for autism

The attorney for a Fraser Valley naturopath facing research for his company that sells fecal microbiota transplants to families of autistic children argued in a BC court on Tuesday that his client is under no obligation to follow scientific evidence.

Naturopath Jason Klop filed a petition in the BC Supreme Court for a judge to order the College of Naturopathic Physicians to end its investigation into his company and lift its ban on manufacturing, advertising and selling pills and enemas made from human feces. lift.

In explaining the ban, the college said Klop may be involved in behavior befitting a naturopath, but attorney Jason Gratl argued that this is difficult to prove in a field with somewhat blurred boundaries and relatively few constraints.

“What does it take for a naturopath to do something inappropriate in an area so broad and open to interpretation?” he asked the court, arguing that only substantial harm to patients at the bar would satisfy.

Gratl suggested that a lack of scientific evidence for the use of fecal microbiota transplants (FMT) to treat autism is not necessarily relevant in this case.

“In certain ways naturopaths can rely on science, but they are not tied to science,” Gratl said.

He explained that naturopathic practices may instead be based on anecdotes or historical knowledge, later pointing out that the field includes homeopathy, “which some say involves magical thinking.” [and is] certainly non-scientific at its core.”

Treatment not approved for autism in Canada

as CBC first reported in January 2020Klop has charged parents about $15,000 for autistic children as young as two years old to have FMT, primarily at a clinic in Mexico’s oceanfront town of Rosarito.

FMT treatments involve taking bacteria and other microbes from a healthy person’s poop and transferring them to a patient anally or orally, with the goal of restoring a normal environment in the gut.

At present, FMT is only approved in Canada and the US for the treatment of relapsed C. difficile infection that has not responded to other therapies, but research is underway on a wide variety of other potential uses.

An illustration shows how fecal microbiota grafts are produced. (Vancouver Island Health Authority)

Doctors and scientists have warned that at this point any other use of this emerging therapy is experimental and carries a serious risk of infection, while autistic advocates consider Klop’s procedure a unproven treatment that endangers vulnerable children

Last August, the college announced it would take “extraordinary measures” to protect the public, by prohibiting Klop from manufacturing or selling FMT products while investigating his company, Novel Biome.

The order came in response to a complaint in April 2021 from a former employee of Klop’s lab, who alleged that he produced FMT products in a basement apartment in Abbotsford using his cousins’ feces, without any quality control or proper screening.

Complaint called ‘baseless and outrageous’

After describing the case as a “tragedy” in his opening address on Tuesday, Gratl described the allegations in the April 2021 complaint as “completely baseless and outrageous”.

He spent much of the day’s hearing refuting them and arguing that they do not meet the legal bar for extraordinary action.

While acknowledging that Klop’s three cousins ​​were the company’s sole donors at the time of the complaint and clarified that the lab was on the ground floor of the building where the boys lived, Gratl said Klop has submitted evidence of his quality assurance processes and standard operating procedures.

Gratl also said the cousins ​​had their blood and stools tested every three months, which he described as the standard for FMT. The court heard Klop dropped off saying he was confident in the quality of their feces because “they’re my cousins ​​so I know their lifestyle.”

The original complaint had also alleged that Klop’s lab manager had no scientific qualifications. Gratl said the lab manager actually wrote the complaint under a pseudonym, and contrary to her claims, she has 20 years of experience in the field.

He described her as a disgruntled employee who was upset about her position in the company.

Gratl also argued that the college made several legal errors in its actions against Klop, including accusing him of improper conduct for violating non-binding Health Canada guidelines on FMT.

He suggested that the college is pursuing restrictions and investigations regarding Klop because of a prudishness about poop rather than any valid patient safety concern.

“I’ve asked my kids, ‘Why do you think stools are funny?’ They can’t stop laughing to answer,” Gratl said.

Lawyers from the college have yet to present their arguments.

However, court records show that the lab manager’s complaint is not the only source of concern for the college when it comes to Klop’s cases.

The investigation process actually began two years earlier, in 2019, when the college appointed inspectors at the private investigative firm Paladin Risk Solutions to investigate allegations that he engaged in improper business relationships and violating federal drug policy.

The hearing of Klop’s petitions to the court will continue on Wednesday.

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