Missouri Republican Who Said She'd Find 'Solutions' for Healthcare Charged With Defrauding Her Medical Patients

Illustration for article titled Missouri Republican Who Said She'd Find 'Solutions' for Healthcare Charged With Defrauding Her Medical Patients
Screenshot: Ozarks First (Fair Use)
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During her successful run last year for a seat in Missouri’s House of Representatives, 63-year-old Republican Patricia Ashton Derges pitched herself as a businesswoman who, as a doctor and the owner of a chain of healthcare clinics, understood how the medical system was failing people. If elected, Derges would work “to find solutions for the ridiculously high cost of healthcare while ensuring that the quality goes up,” as she wrote in a Facebook post from July 2020. She continued, “It has been money driven for far too long! It is time the patient comes first!!”

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On Monday, federal prosecutors unsealed a twenty-count indictment against Derges that charged her with, among other serious allegations, defrauding patients whom she offered fake stem cell treatments. So much for putting patients ahead of profits!

Derges got on the radar of federal investigators when in April of last year, she claimed during an interview with a local television station that stem cell treatments she was offering through her clinics could cure covid-19. According to the indictment, in a separate Facebook post that appears to have since been deleted, Derges continued to parrot stem cell treatments as a “potential cure for COVID-19 patients that is safe and natural.” She reportedly wrote, “All of the components of the God given Amniotic Fluid: Mesenchymal Stem Cells (progenitor cells which are baby stem cells: can become any tissue they want); cytokines, exosomes, chemokines, hyaluronic acid, growth factors and over 800 proteins work together to create a human being: the emphasis on the lungs.” Unsurprisingly, these claims are premature. On its website, the National Institutes of Health “recommends against the use of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of COVID-19, except in a clinical trial” and notes that “there are insufficient data to assess the role of mesenchymal stem cells for the treatment of COVID-19.”

Aside from the claim that stem cell treatments are a cure for covid-19, federal investigators also found that her stem cell treatments, which she touted widely during seminars and media appearances, didn’t even contain stem cells.

More, via the Washington Post:

Starting around November 2018, Derges began distributing amniotic fluid products she got from University of Utah, according to court documents, which she marketed as “Regenerative Biologics.”

Derges claimed her Regenerative Biologics stem cells could treat patients suffering from “tissue damage, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (‘COPD’), Lyme Disease, erectile dysfunction, and urinary incontinence,” according to the indictment.

But the amniotic fluid was “acellular,” meaning it did not contain stem cells or any other cells, federal investigators found.

According to emails reviewed by investigators, Derges received a message in March 2019 from the University of Utah’s director of cell therapy and regenerative medicine who said “there were no live stem cells in [platelet rich plasma] or amniotic fluid.”

But this didn’t stop Derges from defrauding at least five of her patients who received these fake stem cell treatments to the tune of almost $200,000, including patients whom she “treated” even after being informed her supposed stem cell treatments did not contain any stem cells.

I’m no doctor, but this seems bad and extremely unethical, not to mention greedy? Interestingly, Derges herself, who promoted herself during her run for public office as “Dr. Tricia Derges” and can be seen wearing a name badge in videos shot for her clinic that says “Dr. Tricia Derges, MD,” may also be somewhat misrepresenting her medical experience. Derges, as Ozarks First noted, “is not a physician but is licensed as an assistant physician.” The federal indictment details that she “obtained her medical degree from the Caribbean Medical University of Curacao in May 2014 but was not accepted into a post-graduate residency program” and “was licensed as an assistant physician by the State of Missouri on September 8, 2017.”

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After the federal charges were unveiled, Derges was stripped of her committee assignments. Derges maintains her innocence, but if she is found guilty, not only would she be forced to step down from office, but she could face significant prison time.

In a Facebook post two days before the indictment was made public, Derges painted herself as a victim. “I actually thought that I was making a difference. What I didn’t account for was how much satan would fight back,” she wrote. She concluded: “What was I thinking? I guess I wasn’t thinking.”

Senior reporter, Jezebel

DISCUSSION

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Meanwhile, Satan is over there saying “Listen, lady, you caused your own problems.  Don’t bring me into it.”