I get asked many questions about stem cell therapies, but one of the most common over the years has been about the stem cell treatment cost. For instance, a reporter might ask, “How much does a stem cell treatment for MS cost?” and a patient might ask me, “How much is a fair cost for a stem cell therapy for arthritis?” Or, patients will voluntarily tell me what they paid or mention it in the comments. We hear various numbers thrown around about costs so I decided to do a poll on this. I even did an early update on the results of this poll, voicing my skepticism that the costs paid were worth it.
But the poll has gotten well over 500 responses now so I thought I would revisit it and what it might mean.
You can see a screenshot of the images. It’s fair to say, as much as Internet polls aren’t considered particularly accurate, that this one largely fits with what is reported “out in the field”.
(On a side note, I wish there was such a thing as going out into the field for stem cell scientists as I’ve always been a bit jealous of scientists who really do go out in the field. What do we do, go out in the wild and catch wild or feral stem cells in the bush?)
Patients self-reported most often paying between $2,500 and $7,500 for their stem cell therapy so if we take the average of those we get that $5,000 figure that is what I hear most often from others. Yes, not necessarily very rigorous, but the result makes good sense. Not far behind though were responses in the $7,500-20,000 range.
About 1 in 10 respondents reported paying $20,000 or more, including some beyond $100,000. That’s a whopping stem cell treatment cost, especially for something most often unproven and unapproved by the FDA.
If we consider these responses, the average cost may be more like $7,500-$10,000.
Notably, about 1/16 respondents indicated their stem cells were free. I’m not sure what that means in terms of how that came to be.
Interestingly, most respondents who also went on to answer a 2nd poll in that post about where they got the treatment indicate it was at a stem cell clinic (scroll down in that Oct. 2017 post and you’ll see the 2nd poll). This 2nd poll has about 200 responses.
So today buying a simple stem cell “treatment”, most often unproven and non-FDA approved, is often not so different in cost than buying a 10-year old used car, while less often it is similar to buy various new cars including at the high end of stem cell therapy cost, some very expensive new cars. This cost and the risks involved are why I have suggested to patients in the past to be assertive when considering a stem cell treatment, ask questions, don’t just accept too good to be true kinds of answers, etc. In short, be at least (or ideally much more) rigorous about unproven stem cell treatments as you are about buying a car.