According to a report by CTV News, a number of clinics across Canada are offering an unproven treatment. These treatments focus on expensive and unverified stem cell therapies. The treatments claim to offer cures for everything from Crohn’s disease, to multiple sclerosis, to erectile dysfunction. According to the report, these claims are made possible by a lack of regulatory oversight by Health Canada. Keep reading to learn more, or follow the original story here for more information.
A recently published study found 30 Canadian businesses providing unproven stem cell treatments. They operated out of a total of 43 clinics across the country. One major problem with this kind of treatment is that the risks are very rarely made clear to patients. Another problem is the number of conditions these clinics claim to be capable of curing. Properly administered stem cell transplants can be effective treatment. They are used by medical professionals in, for example, cases of blood cancer. These unregulated clinics claim to cure anything from sports injuries to multiple sclerosis to asthma.
Perhaps the greatest danger, researchers claim is the way clinics market these treatments. It encourages patients to think of stem cells as something with almost magical properties. And, since these clinics are primarily business, they charge patients large sums to obtain this magical cure-all.
Clinics supporting the treatments are not taking the investigations lying down. Though many find the marketing tactics of such clinics disturbing, others are willing to defend them. A plastic surgeon wrote to CTVNews to inform them of his experiences with stem cell treatments. The power of stem cell treatment, he claims, helped him to overcome back pain. It should be noted that the same surgeon also serves as the medical director for a clinic that provides stem cell treatments.
Patients, he continues, are provided with the statistics on treatment outcomes. Patients also have the right, he asserts, to make health care decisions that “align with their own values, wishes, and preferences.” Others support this notion, claiming that “faceless bureaucrats” shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions about patients’ bodies for them.
Despite All Odds
Some patients do indeed decide for themselves. Some claim to see benefits form treatment, others steer clear. One man even shares a story of how treatments he recognized as failing were helpful. His wife lives with ALS, and they feel as if nothing is being done about her condition. Describing their thoughts on treatment as “grasping at straws,” they decided to try one of the stem cell clinics. It was a way to find some form of hope. As far as can be seen the treatment had no effect. But it gave them hope and joy and that made it worthwhile.
Stories like these hardly justify the manipulative practices the clinics advertise by, nor the lack of research backing them. They do, however, acknowledge an essential truth about patients. As long as there is even the slightest chance, patient will continue to hope for a better tomorrow.