The Drs: Debating Stem Cell Therapy
The Doctors explained that for some, stem cell therapy is being touted as a miracle cure for a variety of ailments, but they wanted to know if it was hope or just hype. The Doctors wondered if you would spend thousands of dollars on a therapy that you were unsure would even work. Thousands of clinics worldwide are offering stem cells to treat a variety of illnesses like Parkinson’s, M.S., and other neurological disorders. People are being charged anywhere from $6,000-20,000 per session for stem cell therapy, but the health benefits are still in research stages.
The research shows promise, but it’s still too soon to know for sure, so are doctors just preying on those desperate to find a cure? The Doctors were joined via Polycom by Dr Mark Berman, who uses stem cell therapy as a cosmetic surgeon. He explained that they’ve proven that stem cells work, they just haven’t accumulated enough data to prove it to the public.
The Drs: Is Stem Cell Therapy Over-Hyped?
Dr Berman admitted that they were talking about an investigational treatment and Dr Drew Ordon wanted to know if Dr Berman was over-stepping his bounds a bit by trying to treat disease with processes that are “a little out of their lane.” Dr Berman said, “Who do you want to take the fat out of your body?” He said the fat is where they find the stem cells so you want a plastic surgeon to do that, and that’s where he comes in.
He said it’s the orthopedic surgeon who then comes in to provide the orthopedic treatment using the stem cells. He said it’s not easy but they’re getting improvements and learning as they go along. Dr Jennifer Ashton wanted to know if any investigational procedure involved informed consent with the patient. She wanted to make sure Dr Berman’s patients knew the risks, benefits, and other options available to them, especially when it comes to cost.
The Drs: Investigational Stem Cell Therapy
Dr Ashton said many investigational research trials do not charge the patients for their participation because “there’s a hefty price tag that goes along with this.” Dr Berman said the risks have been very low and they haven’t seen any tumors or embolisms.
Dr Travis Stork said that what’s so important in the process is knowing that stem cells offer us so much hope, because theoretically the cells can turn into any type of tissue in your body. But they’re still learning, so the key is knowing what you’re getting into. Dr Ashton said many advances in medicine started with a few pioneers who were thinking outside the box, so the key is always informed consent.
Dr Stork made a point to say that just because a treatment is investigational doesn’t mean it doesn’t work wonderfully, it just means that all the data isn’t there.