A Missouri lawmaker has been charged in a 20-count federal indictment after she allegedly administered COVID-19 treatments that she falsely claimed included "regenerative" stem cells to patients at medical clinics she operates.
According to the Department of Justice, a grand jury has charged Patricia Ashton Derges, 63, with 20 counts that range from wire fraud to making false statements to violations of controlled substance laws.
In a press release by the Department of Justice, the federal government opened an investigation into Derges after she made a series of "false or misleading" statements regarding COVID-19 treatments on a Springfield, Missouri TV station last April.
NBC News reports that during those TV appearances, Derges claimed that stem cells could treat COVID-19. On her Facebook page, Derges claimed that her "amazing treatment stands to provide a potential cure for COVID-19 patients that is safe and natural."
Derges, who is licensed only as an assistant physician in Missouri, allegedly distributed the "treatments" at three locations of the Ozark Valley Medical Clinic that she operates in central Missouri.
While she claimed that the treatments contained regenerative stem cells, the Department of Justice alleged that they did not contain stem cells and only contained a tissue graft of amniotic membrane and amniotic fluid.
NBC News reports that Derges charged between $900 and $1,400 for the treatments but charged one patient as much as $6,000.
"Derges vowed to do no harm as a health care professional and was elected to serve the people, not deceive them," said Timothy Langan the Special Agent in Charge of FBI Kansas City. "She used her position for personal gain and damaged the public's trust."
In November, Derges was elected as a Republican to the Missouri House of Representatives when she ran unopposed. She defeated four other Republican candidates in a primary last August.