Patients encouraged to fundraise to pay for unproven stem cell treatments

A Florida-based clinic has come under fire for its marketing strategies for stem cell treatments, according to The Washington Post.

Seven things to know:

1. The clinic facing scrutiny is the Lung Health Institute, based in Tampa, Fla. It operates clinics in five states.

2. Former patients of the institute told The Post that the clinic pitched them non-FDA approved stem cell therapies for incurable conditions, then encouraged them to take out bank loans, fundraise on GoFundMe or borrow money from family members to pay for the treatments.

3. Gregory Cosgrove, CMO of the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation, which issued a warning in March against using unproven stem cell treatments, told The Post the clinic "is taking a predatory approach to people with progressive, fatal diseases." Additionally, internal documents obtained by the newspaper and interviews with former company staff described marketing and other efforts to persuade patients to get treatments and put money down.

4. But Ann Sells Miller, COO of the Lung Health Institute, told The Post the treatments have helped many patients, that critics often are those who don't understand the stem cell procedures or lawyers looking to make money via lawsuits, and that the company's marketing is intended to "educate people with the disease."

5. As far as the financial advice, Ms. Miller said that "is to make sure that patients understand what their treatment options are and to discuss the associated finances with it."

6. Amid the allegations, the Lung Health Institute plans to seek FDA approval for their treatment, Marc Scheineson, the company's lawyer, told The Post, "even though this is a long, expensive and arduous process … This action distinguishes LHI from the bulk of the other providers of stem cell and related blood-based therapies."

7. The claims against the Lung Health Institute come about a year after Medovex Corp. closed its acquisition of Regenerative Medicine Solutions, a pulmonary biomedical services and patient delivery platform that manages and operates Lung Health Institute. 

Read The Post's full report here.

 

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