Scrolling through a stem cell clinic website can be a surreal experience.
Going from the top of the page to the bottom can leave one feeling turned upside down. I wonder what the FTC thinks when they see these sites?
Usually at the top of the webpage for many unproven stem cell clinics are big claims, glossy pictures of healthy people, and a lot of buzz. However, often if you then scroll down to the bottom there is some very different fine print with lots of caveats, disclaimers like “no medical claims are being made”, and sometimes just outright strange statements.
Sometimes they stress that the information on their own websites may not be accurate. They won’t even claim that their content is legal.
Here in this post I’m reposting some of examples of the fine print I’ve found on clinic sites. I’ve removed the business names and replaced with initials.
“* XYZ has made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information provided on this website. However, the information is provided “as is” without warranty, promises and/or representation of any kind. XYZ does not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained on the website. There’s no guarantee of specific results and the results can vary. It depends on the individual experience of each customer.”
Uh, that’s sure a confidence booster, right?
Here’s another one that doesn’t seem encouraging with this text even though the rest of the site seems in my opinion to be hyping stem cells for many medical conditions:
“Any and all statements and opinions are provided for educational information and are not intended for medical diagnosis. As with all medical treatments and procedures, results may vary on an individual basis.”
Here’s one that makes me happy in a way in that it is responsive to our relatively new California law on stem cell clinics requiring patient notification:
“THIS NOTICE MUST BE PROVIDED TO YOU UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW. This health care practitioner performs one or more stem cell therapies that have not yet been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. You are encouraged to consult with your primary care physician prior to undergoing a stem cell therapy.”
I hope most California clinics are also posting signs in their offices too.
How about this next example of clinic fine print?
“Those who access this web site should consult their Physician before following any of the suggestions or making any conclusions from the web site.
The web site contains the opinions of multiple authors intended for educational purposes with the understanding that the publications or editorials are not providing any professional services.
XYZ and its associates disclaim any liability, loss, or risk, directly or indirectly of the application of any of the contents of the web site.”
Hmm, kind of a downer, right?
With this next one, it makes me wonder why the business charges people for stem cells:
“XYZ does not claim that any applications, or potential applications, using autologous stem cells are approved by the FDA, or are even effective. We do not claim that these treatments work for any listed nor unlisted condition, intended or implied.”
And elsewhere such as in interview in my view you do claim efficacy folks.
This one is a combination disclaimer and in my opinion encouraging people to go into debt:
“Stem Cell Therapy is not yet approved by the FDA and is not covered by medical insurance. Therefore, you might wish to consider financing through ABC. ABC specializes in financing for medical procedures and treatments and has a variety of financing options available. Simply click the link to the right to apply.”
We’ll see more of these sometimes upside down website “fine print” statements to try to avoid liability or governmental action as the FTC likely ramps up action against clinics for problematic claims.
Finally, is it better for clinics to have these kinds of disclaimers that seem to conflict with their claims or not have a disclaimer at all? Do patients even read these things or are they mainly for lawyers?