According to an article originally published by HuffPost, an ambitious 34-year-old doctor is peddling plasma transfusions at steep prices, claiming a number of dubious health benefits.
In 2014 Jesse Karmazin graduated from Stanford Medical School, not long before moving across the country to serve a residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
Just a few years later in 2016, Dr. Karmazin left his residency to found his startup Ambrosia, LLC – his controversial company that claims that a transfusion of two liters of plasma, specifically “young plasma” from donors between 16 and 25 years old, can “reverse aging.”
A bold claim.
Before starting his company, however, Karmazin voluntarily agreed to stop practicing medicine in the state of Massachusetts – a highly atypical agreement even when cancelling residencies, according to the Director of the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine, George Zachos. Such an agreement is usually made to protect the public’s safety. This is just where Ambrosia’s story starts.
The “Science” Behind Ambrosia
The company’s somewhat ghoulish reference to ambrosia, the immortality-bestowing food of the gods in Greek mythology, is right in line with its overhyped promises.
At varying points, Dr. Karmazin has implied that 2 liters of blood plasma is enough to restore hair color, reverse symptoms of Alzheimer’s, lower cholesterol, and effectively reverse aging. Despite making such lofty claims – any of the aforementioned breakthroughs would warrant their own article on this site – Karmazin has yet to make any of the data from his “clinical trial” public.
Conveniently, of course, plasma donations have been a common part of medical science for decades now. As such, Karmazin never had to go through the FDA to get his wonder treatment approved. His so-called clinical trial involved no placebo, and despite claiming suspiciously amazing findings, not one lick of data has made its way into public hands. Despite over 100 people participating in the trial, only one ever spoke to the press about his experience – and he died last year at 65 during a heart attack. That means he lived about two years following his “treatment” – a far cry from the 10 he had hoped for.
Before the trial could even conclude, Monterey doctor David Wright, one of the physicians Karmazin hired to administer the transfusions, terminated his service with Ambrosia fearing for patient well-being.
Scientists have decried the lack of empirical evidence suggesting the procedure’s effectiveness. Most are baffled as to why Karmazin would go to such lengths to protect the data from his trial if it even approaches the miraculous status it claims. Professionals point out the dangers that can potentially threaten plasma transfusion patients, including even death in cases serious enough.
Most believe it’s a whole lot of bunk. As one of the oldest ever pieces of conventional wisdom goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Dr. Karmazin and Abrosia are currently charging $12,000 a pop for the transfusion service. The people willing to shell out that kind of money for an unproven treatment might be particularly desperate, or vulnerable. Karmazin’s refusal to publish verifiable data related to his trial ought to make anyone skeptical, especially when charging exorbitant prices.
Until Karmazin is willing to publish his findings in a reputable medical journal, this writer wants to emphasize his belief that Ambrosia’s transfusions are little more than snake oil playing a central part in its founder’s get-rich-quick scheme.
There’s a lot of money to be made in medicine – does the potentially lucrative nature of the industry sometimes attract the wrong sort of individual? What dangers are posed by doctors who rely on their status as a trusted professional to push for treatments that line their pockets, but very probably don’t help their patients? Share your thoughts with Patient Worthy!