October 24, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

How Much Do Stem Cell Treatments Really Cost?

How much do these stem cell treatments cost?

Stem cell treatments of various kinds are now widely available in America at more than 100 stem cell clinics offering non-FDA approved interventions for dozens of conditions.

American patients are often recruited on the Internet to travel around the US or to Mexico and other countries.

How much out of pocket costs are there, especially considering that insurance almost never covers these stem cell shots?
stem cell treatment cost

American clinics charge approximately $10,000 per treatment. Notably, many patients gets more than one of these non-FDA approved treatments and must pay each time of course.

Some clinics have reduced prices to the $7,000-$8,000 range. Interestingly, costs for treatments outside of the US are usually far higher than in the US, charging anywhere from $20,000 all the way up to $100,000. These clinics still generally have Americans as clientele. Whether inside or outside the US, insurance does not cover the costs of these potentially dangerous, unproven treatments.

Clinic profits are difficult to estimate and vary depending on the type of stem cells and other factors such as malpractice insurance cost. However, I have heard estimates of the clinics’ own costs being around $1,000-$2,000 per treatment, yielding a very high profit margin.

Part of the way that clinics cut corners to boost their profits is by not following FDA regulations, putting patients in danger. Clinics typically do not do pre-clinical studies to get evidence of safety and efficacy before starting to sell their offerings to patients. Clinics also do not include sufficient follow up in the cost of the treatments. They do not publish their data to get peer review and feedback. They often do not have GMP compliant facilities or devices.

Patients themselves are frequently unable to afford these expensive, unproven stem cell “treatments”, and so they turn to their communities including churches, friends, and family to do fundraisers. For example, a coach reportedly recently raised $70,000 for a stem cell intervention from his community. Update: The non-FDA approved Stemedica stem cell intervention sold in Tijuana via partner Novastem reportedly costs $32,000-$40,000 a pop.

With the rapidly increasing number of clinics right here in the US, in theory one might imagine costs would go down due to competition. It’s not clear if that is driving some clinics to lower prices.

Of course other costs to patients going to dubious clinics, sometimes not considered, include the price of false hope, potential injury due to dangerous stem cell “treatments”, possibly being excluded from a real clinical trial in the future, and injury from deferring other arguably more real treatments.

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