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Rooster in the Hen House

Rooster in the Hen House

Has the world gone mad? That's a question that comes up frequently in discussing the stressors in our world. It seems that every news cycle captures one heinous event after another. Just when we think we heard the worse thing possible, something comes up that trumps it. Fact is usually stranger than fiction.

Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration launched a crackdown on stem cell clinics in California. The FDA believes these centers are peddling unproven and potentially dangerous products to those with cancer and other serious diseases.

Scott Gottlieb, M.D., the FDA Commissioner, blasted unscrupulous clinics that take advantage of vulnerable patients by claiming cures for diseases without proof.

Perhaps many of my readers have not heard of Centers using Stem Cell deployments as treatments for illnesses. They have surfaced all across the country, even in Memphis, Tennessee. Most of these Centers disclose to patients that their methods have not been proven and the medical treatments are actually patient-funded study procedures. The idea is to have patients fund the clinical studies that will eventually prove the effectiveness of the treatments. Most of the Centers use a standard pain-scale evaluation tool to verify the treatment's success or failure. The physicians in these Centers believe that they are on safe ground because patients are being informed about the questionable success of the deployment procedures up front and the patients have signed an informed consent form prior to the procedure. To sum up the situation, we collectively have patient funded research, poorly designed data collections and controversial stem cell deployment treatments. It sounds like a problem. Not to mention, some of these deployments may cost more than ten thousand dollars.   

The advocates of stem cell therapy say that the body's natural growth factors are used to enhance healing and reverse disease. Some experts question the effectiveness of stem cell therapy in general. There are no studies that I am aware of that prove that stem cell therapy enhances healing with the exception of ACL repairs and natural breast augmentation in Asian women. Cancer is a stem cell mediated disease. To potentially deploy cancerous stem cells to physiological environments that may turn out to be encouraging for growth into tumors is unacceptable medical practice.

One of the most disturbing activities that these Stem Cell Centers have is enlisting sophisticated marketing firms that promote stem cell therapy as a remedy for almost any illness. How? These firms tap into chat rooms and disease support groups on the internet by creating fake accounts. When patients with real illness discuss treatment options for their illnesses, the marketers begin chatter that reflects the success of stem cell deployment for the symptoms of the disease. These firms extol the virtues of stem cell therapy for everything from Migraine Headaches to Back Pain, from Multiple Sclerosis to Rheumatoid Arthritis. If you have an illness, stem cells will cure it. That's the mantra of these marketing firms. There is no way to track them down since account hacking is a stealth activity.

In a recent raid by FDA inspectors of Stemimmune, Inc. in San Diego, California, FDA officials found doses of live smallpox vaccine which was seized by U.S. marshals. It appears that the smallpox vaccine was used in cancer therapies at California Stem Cell Treatment Centers. Smallpox vaccine is actually live cowpox. This is disturbing on so many levels. The vaccine seized by authorities was part of an "unapproved and potentially dangerous" cancer treatment program according to the FDA.

Stem cell deployments are unproven and if there are therapeutic protocols for cancer that involve smallpox vaccine, we should all begin to wonder about the validity of such centers. Transparency is the key here. It appears that stem cell deployments are procedures that may not help, but could be damaging. How many people have had these procedures and benefited? We do not know. How many people have had these procedures and suffered harm? We do not know. We know there are organizations like the California Stem Cell Treatment Centers which have many members performing procedures all over the country. I suspect they believe their data collection activities are proprietary. In addition, they probably felt that the FDA had no jurisdiction over their activities because their deployments were considered tissue transfer activities. Perhaps their attorneys were wrong.

One hundred years ago, we had to guard against snake oil on every corner. Then came cocaine in Coca Cola and lithium in Seven-Up. Now stem cell deployment is becoming the rage. All of these unproven therapies and none can be considered a cure for anything. It takes time to legitimize medical procedures because we are concerned for the safety and well being of the patients who undergo the procedures. Stem cell research should continue, but it should not take the form of a group of financially incentivized physicians performing patient-funded research with no oversight from an independent agency.

Consumers beware. Patients beware. And Doctors beware. It appears there is a rooster in the hen house of healing.


Posted by Amanda Sanders at 9:49 AM
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