Washington Report 032006

Date Published: 
Original Author: 
Robert M. Fells
Original Publication: 
ICCFA Magazine

Bill proposed on tissue sales 

by ICFA General Counsel Robert M. Fells, Esq.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) recently announced that he would introduce federal legislation to strictly regulate the tissue transplant industry. The move was prompted by recent news reports of illegally obtained tissues from a Brooklyn funeral home where bodies were allegedly exhumed and bones stolen.
Schumer claimed that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not adequately regulated the tissue transplant industry, including mandatory testing procedures to prevent contaminated tissues from being used for transplants.
According to Schumer's office: "Tissue transplantation is similar to organ transplantation but the industry is regulated much more loosely. While organ donors are identified only by doctors in hospitals, tissue donations can come out of funeral homes and morgues."
Schumer's proposal would "make it illegal for tissue banks to buy tissue from funeral homes and morgues, with an exception for types of tissue deemed to be in short supply." The FDA would be required to perform surprise inspections annually of tissue banks and conduct periodic audits of where the tissue has come from.
Also, Schumer would "require FDA to define the term 'reasonable processing fee.' It is currently illegal to buy and sell tissue, but it is legal to charge 'reasonable processing fees.' This term has never been defined, and can be used by for-profit tissue banks to make money off body parts." As we go to press, the proposed legislation has not been introduced. However, the ICFA will monitor the Schumer bill and, when appropriate, provide testimony on its provisions.

FTC announces top 10 consumer fraud complaints

In what has become an annual media event, the Federal Trade Commission has published its lastest report listing the top 10 consumer fraud categories for the previous year. According to the FTC, "Complaints about identity theft topped the list, accounting for 255,000 of more than 685,000 complaints filed with the agency in 2005."
As in past years, it is interesting to note that nowhere in the 70-plus page FTC report does there appear any reference to funeral-related issues.
Also making the top 10: Internet auctions (12 percent); foreign money offers (8 percent); shop-at-home/ catalog sales (8 percent); prizes/sweepstakes and lotteries (7 percent); Internet services and computer complaints (5 percent); business opportunities and work-at-home plans (2 percent). Also, advance fee loans and credit protection (2 percent); telephone services (2 percent); and "other" (17 percent), which includes employment agencies/job counseling, charitable solicitations, government services, real estate, modeling agencies, green card application services and dating services.