Naturopaths ‘not bound by science,’ lawyer argues in B.C. hearing on fecal transplants for autism: Jason Klop has filed a petition asking a judge to overturn a prohibition on the sale of FMT and an investigation into his company.
Tuesday in a courtroom in British Columbia, the attorney for a naturopath in the Fraser Valley who is under investigation for his business selling fecal microbiota transplants to families of autistic children argued that his client is not required to adhere to the scientific evidence that has been presented.
Jason Klop, a naturopath, was in the B.C. Supreme Court requesting that a judge order the College of Naturopathic Physicians to stop its investigations into his company and lift his ban on manufacturing, advertising, and selling pills and enemas made from human feces. Klopp’s petition was presented to the court by a lawyer representing the College of Naturopathic Physicians.
Klopp may have engaged in behavior that is unbecoming of a naturopathic physician, according to the explanation provided by the college for the suspension of his license. However, Klopp’s attorney, Jason Gratl, argued that this is difficult to prove in a field with somewhat nebulous boundaries and relatively few restrictions.
He questioned the court, “What does it take for a naturopath to do something unbecoming in a sector that is so vast and subject to interpretation?” He argued that the standard would be reached only if there was serious harm done to patients.
According to Gratl, the absence of scientific data supporting the utilization of fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) as a treatment for autism may not necessarily be important in this particular instance.
According to Gratl, “in certain areas, naturopaths may rely on science, but they are not bound by science.” Naturopaths have the freedom to make their own decisions.
After explaining that naturopathic treatments can instead be based on anecdotes or historical information, he went on to point out that the subject also encompasses homeopathy, “which some claim involves magical thinking [and is] undoubtedly non-scientific at its foundation.”
Treatment for autism has not been licensed in Canada.
Klopp has been charging parents approximately $15,000 US for autistic children as young as two years old to get FMT, mostly in a facility in the Mexican oceanside city of Rosarito, according to a report that was first published by CBC in January 2020.
In FMT therapies, bacteria and other microorganisms are extracted from the feces of a healthy individual and then either orally or intravenously administered to a patient in the hopes of reestablishing a normal environment within the patient’s digestive tract.
However, research is currently being conducted into a broad variety of other potential applications for FMT, which is currently only approved in the United States and Canada for the treatment of recurrent C. difficile infection that has not responded to conventional therapy.
People who have autism have spoken out against Klopp’s procedure, claiming that it is an unproven treatment that puts vulnerable children in danger. Doctors and scientists have issued a warning that, at the moment, any other use of this emerging therapy is experimental and carries a serious risk of infection. In addition, these professionals have stated that any other application of this emerging therapy carries a risk of infection.
In August of 2018, the college made the announcement that it was going to take “exceptional measures” to protect the general public. As part of this “extraordinary action,” the college has prohibited Klop from making or selling FMT products while it investigates his company, Novel Biome.
The order was issued as a result of a complaint that was filed in April 2021 by a former worker at Klopp’s laboratory. The individual claimed that Klopp was manufacturing FMT products in a basement apartment in Abbotsford using the feces of his nephews, but he lacked any kind of quality control or proper screening.
The complaint was described as being “unfounded and scurrilous.”
In his opening statements on Tuesday, Gratl referred to the case as a “tragedy.” He then went on to describe the changes that were made in the lawsuit that was filed in April 2021 as “completely false and scurrilous.”
He devoted most of the day’s hearing to disproving their claims and arguing that they do not satisfy the requirements of the law for extraordinary action.
Even though he admitted that Klopp’s three nephews were the company’s only donors at the time of the complaint and clarified that the lab was in a ground-level unit of the building where the boys lived, Gratl said that Klopp has submitted evidence of his quality assurance processes and standard operating procedures. This was the case despite the fact that Gratl acknowledged that Klopp’s nephews were the only donors at the time of the complaint.
In addition to this, Gratl mentioned that each nephew’s blood and feces were examined once every three months, which he described as being a routine procedure for FMT. The court has heard that Klopp testified that he was certain of the quality of their excrement because “they are my nephews, thus I know their lifestyles.” Klopp’s testimony was presented to the court.
Additionally, it was alleged in the initial allegation that Klopp’s lab manager had any scientific qualifications. According to Gratl, the lab manager is the one who actually penned the complaint behind a pseudonym, and contrary to what she claims, she has a total of 20 years of expertise in the relevant field.
He gave the impression that she was an unhappy worker who was resentful of her standing in the organization.
Gratl also argued that the college had committed a number of legal errors in its actions against Klopp, one of which was accusing him of conduct unbecoming for breaching non-binding Health Canada guidance documents on FMT. Gratl’s argument was that this accusation was one of the legal errors that the college had committed.
He suggested that the college is pursuing limits and inquiries relating to Klopp because of squeamishness about excrement rather than any legitimate worries about patient safety. This is despite the fact that there are legitimate concerns about patient safety.
“The question “why do you find fecal stuff funny?” has been posted to both of my children. They are unable to answer because they can’t stop giggling “Gratl said.
However, the court documents that have been filed demonstrate that the lab manager’s allegation is not the only cause for concern for the institution regarding Klopp’s firm.
In all actuality, the investigation procedure started two years earlier, in 2019, when the institution assigned inspectors with the private investigation firm Paladin Risk Solutions to look into allegations that he was engaging in illicit commercial dealings and breaching federal drug rules.
On Wednesday, the court is going to continue hearing Klop’s petitions, which is on the agenda for today.