Is Your Stem Cell Treatment Safe-Addressing the Proliferation of Unapproved Stem Cell Products

Proliferation of
Unapproved Stem Cell Therapy as a Cure-all
Stem cell therapy, drawn from infant umbilical cord blood or
from an adults’s own cells is the new snake oil cure-all. In the United States
the only FDA approved use of stem cell therapy is for treatment of blood
disorders like leukemia or hemophilia. (US Food and Drug Administration,
n.d.)

Here is the link to approved stem cell products in the US. https://www.fda.gov/biologicsbloodvaccines/cellulargenetherapyproducts/approvedproducts/default.htm
 Any other use is experimental and has
not received the rigor of the Federal Drug Agency investigation for patient
safety and efficacy. Unfortunately, thanks to unscrupulous direct-to-consumer
marketing, stem cell therapy is nearly as ubiquitous as Botox treatment. This article
highlights some of the dangers of unapproved treatment, what the FDA has done
to protect consumers, and resources for further investigation.
Are Stem Cell
Treatments Drugs?
The FDA considers stem cell treatment to be an injectable
drug therapy and as such is under the purview of the agency. Many of these high
profit stem cell clinics offering the treatment disagree with the FDA
classification and have been flouting the rules.

Risks of Stem Cell
Treatment

  1.  Stem cell products are being manufactured in
    facilities that are not inspected or run by FDA patient safety standards.
    Injectables that are created in an unsterile environment run a high risk of
    infection for patients. Timothy Lunceford of Texas was injected with stem cells
    for joint pain and was hospitalized for 58 days with a blood infection and E.
    coli.
     (McGinley, 2019)
  2.  Nonscientists are creating stem cell products which
    means they do not assess, test, or control for unintended consequences the way
    a controlled scientific experiment does. Three people lost their sight after
    being injected with stem cells as a treatment for macular degeneration.
     (alpha1.org,
    2018)
  3.  Umbilical cord blood containing stem cells, billed
    as the miracle of life, can have different reactions in people. At least 17
    people have been hospitalized after being injected with products containing
    umbilical cord blood.
    (McGinley, 2019)
  4.  Site infections from injection of stem cell
    products is also common and can require hospitalization. John Herzog, MD
    injected himself as a test of safety before he would recommend the product to
    his patients and he ended up in the hospital with a bone infection and a blood
    clot.
    (McGinley, 2019)
  5.  People promoting stem cell treatments often have
    no scientific or medical background and their only motive is to make money. Liveyon
    products sold as stem cell therapy were tested by Lisa Fortier, a Cornell
    University regenerative medicine researcher and she found that nine of the
    products did not contain stem cells or even a single live cell.
    (McGinley, 2019)
  6.  Two people died in Florida after receiving stem
    cell injections in 2012.
     (McGinley, 2019)

Regulatory Actions
Taken By the US

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tested and found
that bacterial contamination occurred at the manufacturing level prior to
clinical use of the stem cell products distributed by Liveyon of Yorba Linda,
California. A product recall for Liveyon ReGen treatment vials occurred 4
months after the company’s product tested positive for e coli. Most worrisome
is Liveyon has opened an operation in Cancun, Mexico so American patients can
receive treatment without the oversight of the FDA. (McGinley,
2019)
The FDA has the authority to regulate drug, cosmetic, and
scientific treatments in the US. New drugs or treatments are supposed to apply
for an Investigational New Drug (IND)application. The agency has reviewed 5,322
stem cell products in clinical trials. To learn more about stem cell products
which have been reviewed in a clinical trial follow this link: https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/results?term=stem+cell+therapies

The FDA sued the US Stem Cell Clinic, LLC in Florida for failure to respond to their inspection concerns. The agency also took action against StemImmune, Inc in California to prevent the use of a dangerous and unproven treatment. In 2017, US marshals seized vials of smallpox which were being used to create stem cells and given to cancer patients in California. In November 2017, the FDA published 4 guidance documents on risk and regulatory compliance for regenerative medicine products. https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm585345.htm


So, it’s quite simple
you should not be using any stem cell therapy which has not been in a clinical
trial under the auspices of the FDA. And you should definitely avoid companies
which promote stem cell treatments despite being found to have contaminated
products by the CDC. These opportunists do not sign a hypocritic oath like
physicians for patient care.
This is the healthpolicymaven signing off encouraging you
not to sign blanket release forms when you check into a treatment center. Do
specify that for why you consent and that for which you decline.
Roberta Winter is a freelance journalist and health policy
analyst whom has published under the trademark healthpolicymaven since 2007.
This article does not give medical advice, but is an advisory on health policy.
She is the author of Unraveling U.S. Healthcare-A Personal Guide, published in
2013.


alpha1.org. (2018, May 16). FDA Files Lawsuits to
Stop Unapproved Stem Cell Therapies. alpha1.org. Retrieved March 24,
2019, from
https://www.alpha1.org/Alphas-Friends-Family/Resources/News/ArtMID/5952/ArticleID/7860/FDA-files-lawsuits-to-stop-unapproved-stem-cell-therapies
McGinley, W. W. (2019, February 27). Miraculous Stem
Cell Therapy Has Sickened People in Five States. The Washington Post,
pp. 1-10. Retrieved March 9, 2019, from
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/miraculous-stem-cell-therapy-has-sickened-people-in-five-states/2019/02/26/c04b23a4-3539-11e9-854a-7a14d7fec96a_story.html?utm_term=.0a2ea7b69b72
US Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). FDA
Consumer Updates
. doi:ucm286155

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