Federal indictment alleges Missouri lawmaker illegally prescribed narcotics, marketed stem cell scheme

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A federal grand jury Monday unsealed a 20-count indictment against state Rep. Tricia Derges, R-Nixa, for allegedly selling fake stem cell treatments at three southwest Missouri clinics.

According to U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri Tim Garrison’s office in Kansas City, Derges is accused of marketing “treatments” with amniotic fluid, illegally prescribing narcotics between 2018-20 and lying to federal agents.

“This defendant abused her privileged position to enrich herself through deception,” Garrison said. “The indictment alleges she lied to her patients and she lied to federal agents. As an elected official and a health care provider, she deserves to be held to a high standard.”

Derges, 63, a licensed assistant physician often described as a doctor”in campaign appearances, is serving her first term in the Missouri House after winning a four-way GOP primary and running unopposed in the Nov. 3 general election.

She was arraigned Monday and released.

“I am here, holding my head up because that’s what you do when you have done NOTHING,” Derges wrote on Facebook Monday. “Never before have I seen anything like this. This is what comes after years of doing nothing but help people. Keep prayers coming.”

It is uncertain what her status will be for the legislative session, which began Jan. 6 and ends in May.

The investigation, conducted by the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration and Department of Health & Human Services (DHS) – launched in April after Derges spoke with a Springfield television station about using stem cells to treat COVID-19 at her Ozark Valley Medical clinics in Branson, Ozark and Springfield.

Investigators say Derges falsely claimed amniotic fluid contains “mesenchymal stem cells” during a seminar, allegedly charging one patient more than $191,000 for treatments.

“Ms. Derges knowingly provided false information and made false claims about the medical treatment she was providing, and these falsehoods may have significant consequences for the patients she served,” said DHS special agent Curt Muller.

The indictment alleges Derges wrote electronic prescriptions for oxycodone and Adderall and transmitted the drugs over the internet without in-person medical evaluations and made two false statements to federal agents in May.

Derges “has entered her plea of not guilty to each and every allegation against her,” her attorney Stacie Bilyeu told The Missouri Times. “These are just allegations. She is an American citizen and has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.”

Derges has a 2014 medical degree from Caribbean Medical University of Curacao but did not attend a post-graduate residency program to become a Doctor of Medicine, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. She earned a Missouri assistant physician license in 2017.

The freshman lawmaker has filed several 2021 bills, including House Bill 550, which would allow assistant physicians to become licensed general practitioners by completing 60 months of post-graduate practice, and HB 916, which would allow assistant physicians to prescribe Schedule II amphetamine or methylphenidate.

In her Ballotpedia candidate profile, Derges wrote she “Founded small manufacturing company in my attic in 1993: grew it to a multi-million dollar international business in a few years” earning 2004 praise from President George Bush.

In 2010, she writes, “I sold my company and went to medical school at the age of 52.”

Following graduation from Caribbean Medical University, Derges in 2016 founded Lift Up Springfield, a “Medical-Dental-Mental Health Mission Clinic for the homeless and poor. My clinic has helped over 25,000 people that were unable to get any care.”

Since then, she writes, “I opened 3 more medical clinics to provide for the uninsured and working persons. I specialize in Regenerative Medicine: Stem Cells: from which my COPD protocol was just approved for a pilot study by the FDA for COVID treatments: proving successful!”

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