Medical News Today (MNT) published an article yesterday on a stem cell clinic in Mexico that caused a lot of concern because to many of us it came off as unbalanced and even promotional of the clinic.
You can read my post from yesterday on this situation.
In response, MNT has now revised their piece and included this statement:
“When this article was first published on February 24th, we received criticism that it was promoting the World Stem Cells Clinic. Medical News Today always aim to provide balanced, reliable news; although the original article provided information on both sides of this clearly heated issue, we have updated the article with further research to make it clear that there are cases for and against using current stem cell therapies for conditions such as autism.”
MNT also posted on Twitter about the change. I read the revision and while it is somewhat better, there are still major problems with it.
@pknoepfler Hi Paul. At MNT we aim to provide balanced, reliable news. Following feedback, the article has been updated to make this clearer
— Medical News Today (@mnt) February 25, 2016
For example, while the somewhat more cautious revision has a bit more discussion of the FDA view on these kinds of stem cell “treatments”, the article remains unbalanced. This kind of piece is in serious need of a quote from a third party organization such as ISSCR and ideally also from an internationally respected stem cell policy expert such as Tim Caulfield.
While the revised MNT article ends better with “It is important to note, however, that – as with most treatments – stem cell therapy does pose risks, and any patient looking to have the procedure should talk to a health care professional to determine whether it is right for them.”, that is the only mention of risk in the piece. So this is an improvement but frankly just not good enough.
It also seems questionable for the piece in its discussion of dubious stem cell clinics to simply quote a stem cell clinic physician’s advice about what to look out for at stem cell clinics. That is not balanced. You need more depth there. I believe the writer should also have noted, since the doctor mentions patient testimonials in a negative light, that this particular clinic’s own website has patient testimonials. That raises concerns.
Finally, I would have appreciated even a brief discussion of the special concerns and bioethical issues related to marketing and administration of unproven stem cell treatments to children.