101-year old lady cured? Groundbreaking FTC Action on Stem Cell Clinic Marketing

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took some strong action against specific stem cell clinics today and the physician behind them. I see this as really good news and it’s something I’ve been pushing for years. The clinics in question in part marketed unproven stem cells for sick kids. Frankly, iffy for-profit stem cell “treatments” for kids is something that especially pisses me off as it’s even riskier and inherently raises more ethical issues. Bryn Jarald Henderson, D.O.

In the announcement today, the FTC described a settlement and outlined specific problematic marketing by Dr. Bryn Jarald Henderson, D.O. (pictured) as well as by his clinics, Regenerative Medical Group and Telehealth Medical Group. Interestingly, I believe it was a “stem cells for autism” ad including Dr. Henderson that I noted had annoyingly popped up while  I was reading a Scientific American article on stem cell clinics in 2016.

From the feds announcement:

“A California-based physician and the two companies he controls have settled charges of deceptively advertising that “amniotic stem cell therapy” can treat serious diseases, including Parkinson’s disease, autism, macular degeneration, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, and heart attacks.

The settlement prohibits the defendants from making these and other health claims in the future unless the claims are true and supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence. The settlement also imposes a partially suspended $3.31 million judgment and requires the defendants to notify current and former patients about the order within 30 days.”

This is a big deal.

I’m wondering about the future of these and other related businesses. By the way as a stem cell biologist, I’m not aware of any good evidence for the claims that “amniotic stem cell therapy” (whatever that happens to actually be at a particular clinic) can help the conditions mentioned in that quote as being marketed.

The FTC complaint (see court filing here) gives some insights into the stem cell treatment costs and profits by the clinic, which:

“earned at least $3.31 million offering stem cell therapy between 2014 and 2017. Initial stem cell therapy injections ranged from $9,500 to $15,000, with patients encouraged to undergo multiple treatments. Follow-up “booster” treatments cost between $5,000 and $8,000 each.”

This fits fairly well with our information here on The Niche on stem cell costs.

Amongst the more striking claims made, check this one out,

“the defendants even claimed that the therapy could restore the vision of blind patients, citing the case of a “101 year old Lady once blind for 7 years” who, thanks to stem cell therapy, could see again. The website’s homepage boasted that the therapy could “reverse autism symptoms.”

More FTC action coming? Probably.

There are hundreds of clinics out there with a sizable subset of those making questionable and in some cases even outrageous medical claims.

9 thoughts on “101-year old lady cured? Groundbreaking FTC Action on Stem Cell Clinic Marketing”

  1. Good day,
    I am delighted to have read this article and I commend the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for taking legal action against fraudulent stem clinics and physicians operating them. Individuals may take advantage of the fact that stem cell findings are constantly being reported and pose as physicians to cure incurable diseases. Fraudsters are quite aware of the emotional trauma and vulnerability of families to cure loved ones. According to Brian Chapman, a patient diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, “Everything changes when somebody has been diagnosed with an incurable disease it is not just the patient that is suffering but the whole family get drawn into the problem themselves”. Thus, when utilizing stem cell clinics services one must be careful and conduct research about the clinic before paying for any stem cell procedures.
    At present I am student of the University of the West Indies, St Augustine Trinidad and I am aspiring biologist and biochemist and it is alleged that there was a fraudulent stem cell clinic present in my country also. Currently there is a foreign stem cell clinic called American Cell Treatment and Anti-Aging Centre which specializes in stem cell treatment and therapy located in Maraval Trinidad. As an aspiring biologist and biochemist being taught about stem cell research I am also unaware of “ amniotic stem cell therapy” which can treat major diseases such as Parkinson’s disease , autism , macular degeneration , cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and heart attacks. However, although there might be a few fraudulent stem cells clinics one must not be misled by the fact that stem cells build and maintain the world.
    Stem cells are of grave significance in the application of medicine. Stems cells are already utilized in medicine in which one skin stem cell can produce enough specialized skin cells to cover the body producing a major breakthrough in the treatment of extensive burns however at present only one part of the skin can be done which is the outer most layer since it is the crucial for survival. Sweat glands can also be reconstructed but burnt patients are unable to sweat and don’t have hair. Further research are being conducted in laboratories to solve this issue. Stem cells can also be used to treat patients with Leukemia, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson disease and diabetes. These stem cells are derived from a blastocyst which is controversial, however I agree with using embryonic stem cells to cure diseases. These embryonic stem cells can a become a heart, blood, brain or skin cells depending on the way they are cultured. Beta cells from insulin producing organ, the pancreas, are now being transplanted and isolated from donor organs in clinics. After transplantation of with those cells persons suffering from diabetes can normalize it, however there is a shortage of the donor cells. If one can isolate these donor cells and grow them in the laboratory then greater number of persons will be cured from diabetes. If scientists continue to work together and continue further research a lot of lives will be saved. Cells are the building blocks of the tissues and organs in the body and these “embryonic stem cells know how to do every single cell type of the body organism , so all the secrets are there we just have to discover them “, Professor Elena Cattaneo (Scientist).

  2. In my opinion Stem Cells are the future. Embryonic stem cell research has the potential the cure many diseases that, is today, detrimental. There are ethical issues, I do agree, however there are ways we could reduce the exploitation of these embryos and in moderation use them to cure a disease at a time. With respect to the concept of a human life being destroyed before it is started, many of these embryos are lost or can potentially turn into twins. From a scientific point of view, this makes sense and from a religious point of view it isn’t ending a life to somehow save one, it is used resources for the betterment of human life and health.

  3. Having been introduced to stem cells recently, it is understood that stem cells are potentially able to cure a vast number of incurable diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and diabetes with continued research. Currently in testing is the skin gun which is used to generate new skin for burn victims at a faster and less painful rate says Thomas Bold, CEO of RenovaCare. However, one needs to be insightful and aware of what they embark on especially when the health and wellbeing of oneself is considered as it can deteriorate and even be fatal. Obtaining a second opinion or even a third opinion could save them their earnings and even their life. It is morally unethical and completely distasteful that these dishonest businesses exist. They continue to allow individuals to believe in their false practices, continuing to waste hard earned money due to desperation, eventually giving a bad rep to the actual findings when research is conducted for said individuals. The FTC was successful in exposing the agenda of this establishment and it is only one of the many as stated in the article. I hope that they continue to expose these establishments and that individuals are more aware of what they sign up for.

  4. I truly do believe that stem cells hold a great value when it comes to medical application, due to the areas in which its applied to within the medical field and the variety of diseases that can be treated using such cells. Diseases that were once deemed incurable such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, Heart and even spinal cord injury. These cells also play a great role in the formation of new skin tissue for those patients that have been severely burnt which is known ad stem cell grafting. It seem to me that these cells hold a great power with them and could open many doors in near future for science and medicine.

  5. This type of marketing and statements is akin to using the word ‘Laser’ in any sort of surgery or ‘surgical company name’. I am constantly inundated with questions about ‘this place’ and I have had people pay out of pocket for poorly done ‘laser surgery’ on their back, only to return to me wondering why it didn’t work. I have yet to see a patient who sent in their MRI and History, to this company, who WASN’T recommended surgery, despite several needing absolutely nothing at all, given symptoms.

    I really want Stem Cell treatments to work, because I believe that we will eventually move in that direction for a significant portion of care. However, this sort of rubbish infuriates me, and leave a black eye on anyone trying to do research on the subject.

  6. Good day,
    It is great that this is being highlighted. As exciting as stem cell research is, due to its various capabilities to treat aliments, one needs to be very careful. There are many persons who are unaware of such unscrupulous business practices because they are so desperate for help in some cases and are not well informed on how the treatment actually works. As a result, they end up being used and manipulated for their finances and. The patient’s condition may also worsen.There has been hints of such practices taking place here in my country as well. I am glad something was done and I hope more clinics,such as these, are shut down before anymore people suffer. Such things do take a toll on the patient and their families. In this case, where kids were being treated, makes it even more frightening to think about. Hope more is done to screen such places before they are even set up so that more people are protected. The FTC did a great job with this. Thanks for posting this information.

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