November 25, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Hallelujah it’s raining money? Stem cell job ad is window into clinics & their finances

“Are you a motivational speaker?” is how a recent stem cell job ad for a sales position related to stem cell clinics begins.

stem cell raining money

This ad that popped up on Monster earlier this summer is a revealing window on stem cell clinic practices. What’s inside, in my opinion, is cause for concern. Lately we’ve seen more and more ads for stem cell clinics targeted to patients, but this particular ad is a job opening and it kind of spills the beans on what the clinics are doing and their financials.

Amongst other things this stem cell job ad promises big money (“the right candidate will earn a very nice 6 figure income!”)  for sales people if they can get enough patients in the door and care providers engaged. It asks potential applicants, “Would you like to get paid what you are worth?” and then later more specifically points out that, “Each sale earns a 1%, 3% or 5% commission.”

All that money will be coming from patients, either directly or indirectly, as these procedures are not covered by insurance. Since in general what stem cell clinics are selling is not supported by properly controlled, pre-clinical or clinical studies published in mainstream journals, and is not FDA approved, overall is this kind of offering within the stem cell clinic field fair to patients?

If we do a simple back-of-the-napkin calculation on the suggested income in the ad, assuming $200,000 a year in income and 3% average commission, the desired stem cell sales person would have to sell about $6.6 million in stem cell offerings per year. At the quoted $8,500 per procedure that’s around 750 “treatments” sold by the salesperson, which works out to about two per day, 365 days a year. Even if we cut the possible salary in half to $100K, the lowest 6-figure salary, the number of “treatments” to be sold and patients potentially impact is still very large.

This position seems to be targeted toward getting an inspirational sales person to talk both to patients and to also motivate care providers who will then sell stem cell offerings to patients:

“This job involves 2 days per week in the clinic, educating and teaching prospective patients about Stem Cell Therapy and then getting them to commit and buy this amazing treatment…Your other days will be spent talking with family doctors, Chiropractors, Specialists and Physical Therapists, teaching them about Stem Cell Therapy and soliciting referrals…You will also be “servicing” our doctor clinics taking them coffees, lunches and socializing with the staff. You will do weekly lunch learning workshops and the occasional dinner workshop.”

The verb “servicing” that the ad itself puts in quotes means schmoozing those care providers into selling stem cells?

And what exactly is the “amazing treatment”? Is it safe, and does it work?

As to the clinics that might be some of the customers for the stem cell offerings, who are they and for the “Specialists” what is their training? It’s also not clear whether Chiropractors or Physical Therapists, which are mentioned in the ad, are qualified to administer stem cell treatments.

The fact that the ad mentions in particular “older clientele” as target customers is a concern to me and resonates strongly because many clinics seem to target older patients to recruit new customers. In my view when selling experimental stem cell offerings to either pediatric or older patients, extra care should be taken in the consent process and at other stages, perhaps including consulting a bioethicist.

Who exactly is the employer here behind this job ad?

It’s not clear to me as the ad says, “Medical Sales at Stem Cell Centers Towson, MD 21204”, but I couldn’t find a clinic or other stem cell business there. Perhaps the business running this ad is more of a “middle man” that doesn’t actually do treatments itself? If that is the case, then it may not show up on the radar as much such as via a Google search for “stem cell treatment Towson MD”.

Overall, this job ad reveals some striking aspects of the stem cell clinic industry and highlights the big money perceived to be made from patients.

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