The car shopping analogy for evaluating stem cell clinics

Patients contact me all the time these days asking about American stem cell clinics. The most common question boils down to “should I get a treatment at clinic X and what things should I think about in trying to make this decision?” I recommend checking out my stem cell treatment guide for patients.used-car-sales

In addition, you might consider an analogy to car shopping. I’ve found it is very helpful.

Buying a car is a much less serious decision than getting a stem cell therapy, but it is sometimes not taken as seriously from a practical point of view in terms of what goes into the decision making.

If you are going to buy a car ranging in price from say $10,000 (maybe a used Honda) up to $30,000 or even $50,000 or more for a car, you do your homework, right?

You read up on reviews and watch reviews online. if you’re like me, you appreciate balanced car reviews that talk about pluses and minuses.

You check out the specs on the car. You might talk to your own mechanic.

You go for test drives and you ask the car salesperson a ton of questions. You don’t necessarily believe their answers.

Also, you don’t take the claims about things like MPG at face value, especially after that recent emissions fixing scandal.

You go in with skepticism. You probable haggle on the price.

Take at least the same level of care (or hopefully much more) when considering a stem cell treatment, especially since we are talking about someone injecting you with living cells.

You might say that all doctors may be more trustworthy than car salespeople in general, but that’s not always going to be true. Some car salespeople are great and some doctors not so much.

Ask probing questions.

Ask to see data.

Don’t let the clinic off the hook if they make broad generalizations like, “no one has ever had a problem” or “this works for most people”. Would you accept such answers from a car dealership.

Ask the stem cell clinic how they chose the price tag for the stem cell treatment. Is there a warranty or guarantee on stem cells?

Ask them if they have checked out their stem cell treatment with independent stem cell experts or the FDA to see if it’s OK. Imagine a car being sold in which the manufacturer had basically said, “screw you” to all governmental agencies when it came to safety and reliability.

Does this like a lot of questions about stem cells? Think again about how you buy a car. Imagine the dealer told you to just trust them and wouldn’t answer your questions with straight answers.

Would you buy that?

And above all else, talk to your own primary care doctor.

4 thoughts on “The car shopping analogy for evaluating stem cell clinics”

  1. Jonathan Schwartz

    I saw a stem cell clinic yesterday (I’m not going to name which one) advertise a “SALE” on stem cell procedures…………

  2. Three further points:
    (1) Has the stem-cell doc published on stem cells in the peer-reviewed literature? Read the publications!
    (2) What training has the stem-cell doc had specific to stem-cells?
    (3) What specialist expertise does the stem-cell doc have regarding the specific condition that the patient has?

    Both (2) and (3) are critical. Personally, I’d insist on (1) as well.

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