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The Placenta Crackdown

Placentas just keep on giving. After these fancy, one-use organs become afterbirth, some women hang on to them for sentimental, gardening or health reasons. We'd probably be stunned to find out how many freezers contain a placenta, stored way in the back, date of use—use of use!—still waiting to be determined.

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I know midwives who will dry, crush and prep a jar of placenta pills for their clients. There are also companies who will do the processing for you. The idea is that eating the organ that once fed your baby staves off postpartum depression and boosts milk supply. Some women swear by them. Other women regret taking them.

The Food and Drug Administration? They're a little alarmed by them.

"Mother nature did safety and efficacy testing on the tissue"

To be clear, the FDA doesn't care what you do with your own placenta. But they've cracked down on MiMedx, a Georgia-based company that turns donated human placentas into medical products to be used for reconstructive surgeries, damaged eyes, sports injuries and damaged gums. The federal agency claims MiMedx has not sought approval for its line of injectables and pills, which are made from crushed placental tissue. MiMedx has yet to conduct any clinical trials on its products, according to a letter sent by the FDA and published at the FDA website.

And that's a requirement the FDA has for any pills used as medicine. Investors in the company are filing a class-action lawsuit against MiMedx for failing to do the proper testing and to take steps toward getting FDA approval. But the company's CEO defends MiMedx telling ABCNews.com that they've shipped 18,000 vials of crushed placenta products and no one has complained.

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"Mother nature did safety and efficacy testing on the tissue," Petit said, referring to the conflict with the FDA as a philosophical misunderstanding since the products are made from human cells, not drugs.

Not exactly a reassuring defense for safety and effectiveness. Perhaps other people's discarded organs are better left in the garden.

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