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Australia Targeted by Under-regulated Stem Cell Clinics

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Australia has one of the highest number of clinics engaging in direct-to-consumer marketing of stem cell therapies, according to the largest-ever study of an “under-regulated industry”.

The study, published in Cell Stem Cell, reveals murky marketing practices and dubious claims from 417 unique websites advertising stem cell-based therapies. “In the early days of this under-regulated industry, clinics were typically located in developing economies, where weak laws or lax enforcement enabled these businesses to operate with relative impunity,” says the study’s senior author, Prof John Rasko of The University of Sydney.

Previously it was thought that stem cell tourism was predominately being promoted online from countries in South-East Asia, Russia and eastern Europe. “More recently, richer countries such as Australia, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States have seen clinics take advantage of real or imagined gaps in regulation.”

Stem cell experts have long called for the closure of loopholes that allow doctors to administer costly, unproven and potentially dangerous stem cell therapies in Australia. “The loophole applies to stem cells taken from one’s own body for use in autologous stem cell transplants. The Medical Council of NSW, Australian Academy of Science and the National Health and Medical Research Council proposed much stronger regulations,...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.