Eight simple reasons not to get an unlicensed stem cell treatment: #5, lack of physician training

stem cell newbieWould you want a GI specialist doing your heart surgery?

How about a radiologist doing your brain surgery?

I wouldn’t.

So why then do so many patients accept that the doctor doing their stem cell transplant has no training in that area?

I’m doing a series on eight simple reasons not to get an unlicensed stem cell treatment.

Up to this point, I’ve covered four important reasons to pause before getting such a treatment: potential loss of insurance coverage for negative outcomes that could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, failure of patient follow up by the doctors and clinics,  exclusion from future clinical trial participation, and undesired tissue growth.

Today’s post is focused on reason number 5: lack of physician training.

It turns out that stem cells have gotten so exciting and popular that many physicians are treating patients with stem cells even though these docs do not have any specific training or experience in stem cells. Talk about a dangerous situation.

I know many docs in the stem cell field including in the for-profit sector. We may not agree on a number of things and I’m sure they are cranky with me over a variety of things to put it mildly, but we agree on one thing.

They tell me that they too are extremely concerned about the proliferation of essentially untrained and/or inexperienced doctors doing stem cell transplants.

Many of these doc newbies to the stem cell world do not even understand basic stem cell biology, which is not included in the medical school curriculum of today. These folks also know next-to-nothing about GMP practices, cell culture, clinical trials, or the FDA.

In contrast, some of the doctors I know work very hard to get as much training as possible and are highly educated about stem cell biology, FDA regulations, and so forth. I am not saying I agree with everything that they are doing, but they know their stem cells and the issues related to transplantation, compliance, follow up, etc.

One excuse I have heard from some of the untrained folks is that there is no formal physician academic training program specifically in stem cells. Unfortunately it turns out that is true, but that is not an excuse for them to treat patients in ways for which you are not trained. With the exception of hem/onc docs, who can be trained in hematopoietic/marrow/peripheral blood stem cell transplantation, doctors in other specialties generally have no stem cell-specific academic training. I will address this gap in a few days in a related post where I discuss my idea for a solution.


5 thoughts on “Eight simple reasons not to get an unlicensed stem cell treatment: #5, lack of physician training”

  1. Pingback: News – How does the U.S. public rate the FDA’s performance? (Stem Cell Network) | Stu's Stem Cell Blog

  2. Pingback: 8 simple reasons not to get a non-compliant stem cell treatment: #6 jeopardizing ownership of your cells | Knoepfler Lab Stem Cell Blog

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  4. Paul, I wasn’t sure if the comments posted without moderation. That’s why I didn’t put my name on the last reply. I’m sure you figured that out. Thanks. Need help getting these scoundrels exposed.

  5. Paul – I do have something to add to the legal blog. Tried e-mailing you, but I may not have the right e-mail address. What is the best way to contact you?

    You stated, “If you know of a legal case or document that I should add, please let me know. I consider this stem cell legal hub page to be a work in progress and expect it to evolve over time with the inevitable additional cases and FDA actions that come along.”

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