UCI: School Fires Doctor Involved in Embryo Scandal
The University of California Board of Regents last week severed ties with a doctor involved in the UC-Irvine "egg-swapping scandal" five years ago, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The board voted to fire Dr. Ricardo Asch, a well-known in-vitro fertilization expert accused of stealing patients' embryos and implanting them in other women. Asch, who now practices in Mexico, ran UCI's Center for Reproductive Health, along with Dr. Sergio Stone, who was fired last March, and Dr. Jose Balmaceda, an untenured professor whose contract was dropped. After Thursday's vote, UCI Chancellor Ralph Cicerone said, "It's good to finally end these matters" (Locke, 7/21). While Asch was unavailable for comment, his attorney, Lloyd Charton maintained his client's innocence. Charton said: "Dr. Asch did not do anything wrong. He did not commit any acts of unethical behavior. ... He did what he was supposed to do: put eggs from Lady A into Lady B. All of the problems were clerical in nature. UCI failed to provide better administrative paperwork and clerical assistance." Charton added that Asch will not fight his termination as he intends to "put this matter behind him" (Weiss, Los Angeles Times, 7/21). Asch and Stone are the only two tenured faculty members fired in the school's history. UC has sued all three doctors in hopes of recovering some of the more than $19 million the system paid out to settle lawsuits by former clinic patients (Fisher/Saar, Orange County Register, 7/21).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.