Stem cell therapy is one of those new health trends that, in many cases, make doctors and scientists cringe. The lack of evidence and research makes critics call it not only a pseudoscience, but a dangerous one at that. In recent news by iCrowdNewswire
, Google has joined the anti-unregulated stem cell therapy campaign, announcing they will ban ads for “unproven or experimental” medical procedures.
The Current Legal Bans on Stem Cell Clinics
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has had these stem cell clinics on their radar for a few years now, condemning them for not going through regulated scientific clinical trials and approval processes which are used to monitor the safety and effectiveness. The scientific community has been wary of the unfounded practice from the beginning, claiming it takes advantage of a vulnerable community desperate for a solution, and thus taking whatever options they can find. Patients often paying between $10,000 and $20,000 out of pocket before receiving the treatment, which doesn’t even have reliable results. In recent years, the FDA has began to crack down on these unregulated establishments and gotten federal courts on their side, though many have continued to operate.
These rogue clinics continue to be seen across the country though, claiming to be effective for many hard to treat diseases such as chronic pain, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinsons; often diseases that have few treatment options and thus may experiment with whatever is possible. They inject stem cells into their source of pain or injury. The irony and hypocracy is clear between their claims to be the safest and most effective option, despite rejecting calls for simply undergoing the scientific scrutiny, indicating they’d rather maintain ignorance than be proven false. The only FDA approved stem cell procedures are those which use bone marrow or cord blood cells to treat relevant cancers. However, the methods that inject in any other parts of the body have no evidence and thus do not accept insurance, causing patients to spend incredibly steep prices without guaranteed results.
Further, there are many stories about the harm caused by the procedures including afflicting serious infections, benign tumors, and blindness. This motivated action by the FDA after many bioethicists, professors, and doctors called on them to address this blooming pseudoscience. They began to create relevant regulations and continued onto take these clinics to court. However, the legal processes are slow, and though they effectively shutdown clinics eventually, meanwhile the clinics continue to operate.
Tech Companies Role
Google becomes relevant because the internet is a crucial tool for many with rare diseases, used as a source to connect to niches which often are hard to otherwise connect with. These clinics use the internet to advertise and tech companies have accepted that money, in turn, helping boost the stem-cells client base. These search engines previously have let the clinics market directly, with searches for treatments resulting in ads for these unproven methods. Often these advertisements are the first sites that pop up when users search for information, leading them into the expensive and unvalidated clinics.
Googles Ban on Stem-Cell Clinic Advertisements
However, now, Google has announced they will pull these ads in October, stating that these direct ads “can lead to dangerous health outcomes and we feel they have no place on our platforms.” The policy is a blanket ban on the ads, not distinguishing between the most dangerous procedures from the less risky ones. Since none of the options are proven, allowing any to continue to advertise seemed to be a slippery slope into clinics finding ways to continue to publicize under different names.
While Google has hopped on board, experts hope other tech companies will follow. While these clinics will continue to operate, by limiting their publicity, Google will help limit the exploitation of those desperate for a cure.