Unproven stem cell therapies often peddled by doctors without training

At U.S. clinics advertising unproven stem cell treatments, roughly two-thirds of the clinicians may be physicians, but a new study suggests these doctors are often trained in specialties unrelated to the services they provide.

“About half of the companies we examined offer unproven stem cell treatments for conditions (for) which they do not have a physician with the appropriate residency and fellowship training,” said senior study author Zubin Master, of the Biomedical Ethics Research Program at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

“As regenerative medicine advances and potential therapies become available, it is important for patients to be treated by clinicians who are appropriately qualified to provide such care,” Master said by email.

More than 700 U.S. clinics advertise unproven stem cell treatments, Master and colleagues note in JAMA.

All too often, these treatments involve approaches that aren’t approved in the U.S. and aren’t backed by solid evidence of effectiveness from well-designed clinical trials.

Insurance typically doesn’t cover these unproven therapies, and patients may spend thousands of dollars out-of-pocket on stem cell therapies that don’t deliver promised benefits and may even leave patients worse off than before.

When clinics advertising unproven stem cell therapies promise that U.S.-trained physicians are providing these treatments, patients may be lulled into a false sense of security even when these doctors aren’t trained to provide the advertised services.

For the current study, researchers examined the training background of 608 clinicians at 166 companies advertising unproven stem cell therapies in California, Florida, and Texas.

Overall, 401 clinicians, or 66%, were physicians.

Out of 157 companies with a physician on staff, only about half had at least one doctor with training in the specialty needed for the type of services offered to patients.

Among orthopedic-focused practices, 77% had one or more physicians with the appropriate training in this specialty.

For other types of unproven stem cell therapies, only 19% of companies advertising services appeared to have physicians on staff with the appropriate training.

Many clinics were also staffed by other types of clinicians like nurses, physician assistants, podiatrists, physical therapists, dentists, and scientists.

The study focused on unproven treatments that might be ineffective and dangerous regardless of physicians’ training. It wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove whether or how clinician training might directly impact patient outcomes.

“Reports of serious harms, including septicemia, blindness, paralysis and death, have been increasing in recent years,” said Douglas Sipp, a researcher at RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, who wasn’t involved in the study.

“But even when such treatments are performed without incident, the main risk is that the patient will receive no more than an expensive, medically useless placebo,” Sipp said by email.

Unproven stem cell injections aren’t in the best interest of patients and stem cells really are not at present advisable for any medical conditions besides those already established related to blood cancers and immune disorders, said Paul Knoepfler, a professor of cell biology and human anatomy at the University of California Davis School of Medicine in Sacramento.

“Even so, the potential profits and/or illusions about the purported magic of ‘stem cells’ is clearly luring some doctors into dangerous territory outside their expertise,” Knoepfler said by email.

“Injecting unproven stem cells into patients who have health conditions outside the doctors’ area of expertise (e.g. say a dermatologist treating a brain condition) is riskier for the patient, but a surprising number of physicians are willing to do it anyway,” Knoepfler added. “They’re rolling the stem cell dice with their patients because these doctors either have unrealistic notions about the “alternative medicine” power of stem cells or the extra profit is attractive.”

SOURCE: bit.ly/2XzKGjt JAMA, online June 25, 2019.

Source

more recommended stories

  • Oklahoma seeks to hold J&J responsible for opioid crisis as trial ends

    NORMAN, Okla. (Reuters) – Lawyers for.

  • Healthy living may help offset genetic risk of dementia: study

    LONDON (Reuters) – Living healthily with.

  • Democrats take aim as Trump abandons drug pricing plan

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats see U.S..

  • U.S. appeals court blocks Trump administration birth control exemptions

    (Reuters) – A federal appeals court.

  • China vows to tackle dead pig scam amid swine fever epidemic

    FILE PHOTO: Piglets are seen by.

  • Alberta joins Ontario in pulling some CannTrust weed products

    TORONTO (Reuters) – Alberta is placing.

  • Trump administration pushes U.S. at-home kidney care, transplant availability

    NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump.

  • U.S. appeals court signals sympathy to bid to strike down Obamacare

    NEW ORLEANS (Reuters) – A federal.

  • U.S. judge strikes down Trump administration rule requiring drug prices in TV ads

    (Reuters) – A federal judge on.

  • Intra-Cellular drug fails one of two bipolar depression studies; shares fall

    (Reuters) – Intra-Cellular Therapies Inc said.

  • China reports new African swine fever outbreak in Guangxi region

    BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s southwestern region.

  • Weed ban means no Rocky Mountain high for Canada’s Calgary Stampede

    CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) – Canada’s Calgary.

  • Weightlifting better at reducing heart fat than aerobic exercise

    Obese people who engaged in resistance.

  • Sydney’s city council reviews use of Bayer’s Roundup weed killer amid cancer fears

    SYDNEY (Reuters) – Sydney’s city council.

  • Bulgaria confirms two cases of African swine fever

    SOFIA (Reuters) – Bulgaria has confirmed.

  • FDA approves Karyopharm Therapeutics’ blood cancer drug

    (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and.

  • Facebook to tackle content with misleading health claims

    FILE PHOTO: The Facebook logo is.

  • FDA ties three deaths to Edwards Lifesciences’ recalled heart devices

    (Reuters) – The U.S. Food and.

  • India asks its states not to partner with Philip Morris-funded foundation

    NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India’s health.

  • U.S. federal court delays adoption of healthcare rule on abortion

    FILE PHOTO – A imaging table.

  • China tightens vaccine management after scandals

    FILE PHOTO – A nurse prepares.

  • U.S wages lost to unpaid family care to hit $147 billion by 2050

    As the U.S. population ages, the.

  • U.S. ‘gag rule’ linked to 40% jump in abortions in parts of Africa

    LONDON (Reuters) – A decades-old U.S..

  • Study shows major real-world impact of cervical cancer vaccines

    LONDON, June 26 (Reuters) – Vaccination.

  • Glyphosate use will eventually end, Merkel says

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a.

  • Teleflex recalls breathing tubes worldwide after reports of 4 deaths

    (Reuters) – Teleflex Inc said on.

  • In border camps, Syrians rely on doctors in trucks and tents

    AZAZ, Syria (Reuters) – The Syrian.

  • Thailand bans pig imports from Laos after African swine fever outbreak

    BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand will ban.

  • FDA approves drug for loss of sexual desire in women

    (Reuters) – The U.S. drug regulator.

  • Missouri orders lone abortion clinic to close; judge keeps it open for now

    ST. LOUIS (Reuters) – Missouri health.

  • Merck CEO sees legal challenge if U.S. adopts drug pricing based on other countries

    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Merck &.

  • Strobing stage lights could up risk of epileptic seizures

    (Reuters Health) – Flashing light effects.