YORBA LINDA, Calif. (AP) — Two California medical companies have been accused in a lawsuit of illegally profiting from the sale of fetal tissue.
The lawsuit filed late Tuesday by the Orange County District Attorney's Office said DaVinci Biosciences and its sister company, DV Biologics, collected tens of thousands of dollars in revenue by selling fetal tissue and stem cells donated from abortion providers to research groups around the world.
It's illegal to profit from the sale of fetal parts, but an organization providing the tissue can charge a fee to recover its expenses.
The lawsuit said the companies profited from at least 500 sales between 2012 and 2015, selling products for more than what it costs to process, handle and ship them, the Orange County Register (http://bit.ly/2dLOpFN ) reported.
DaVinci Biosciences researches potential treatments for degenerative diseases. DV Biologics supplies human tissue to research groups.
A lawyer for the companies said they followed the rules.
"DaVinci complied with these regulations and never turned a profit," lawyer Michael Tein said in a statement. "Shipments of research materials were made only to other medical scientists at fully accredited universities and laboratories. "
The issue of fetal tissue sale received widespread attention last year after secretly recorded tapes showed Planned Parenthood officials talking about the tissue they sometimes provide to researchers.
Planned Parenthood has said it has broken no laws, and investigations by several states and congressional panels have not produced evidence that it acted illegally.
Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said the lawsuit was not about the ethics of fetal tissue research.
"This is not about politics," Rackauckas told the Register. "This is about a clear violation of the law."
The companies previously had a contract with Planned Parenthood, but Planned Parenthood was found not to be selling fetal tissue and is not part of the investigation, said Deputy District Attorney Kelly Ernby.
Prosecutors are seeking a $1.6 million fine and an injunction preventing future sales at a profit.