The difference between stem cell clinic reality and what’s advertised never ceases to amaze me. Last year one of these magic stem cell pixie dust clinics came to my attention, but I ignored it. However, another colleague has just again brought it to my attention that it references a comparison to Regenexx, so let’s use it as an example of how we stack up to this type of clinic.
When you look at where you want to eat out this week, you have lots of choices. Because you have loads of experience with having eaten out cheap and expensive, you have some idea of what you get for your money. Obviously, a McDonald’s hamburger is different than a 5-course gourmet meal in a beautiful setting. However, in medicine, patients often struggle to figure out the same type of differences in medical care. Heck, one of my doctor friends had a hard time choosing the best cardiologist for his heart condition. He went to one and a had a procedure done that didn’t work and then went to a second who performed a much more sophisticated version of the same process and that worked well. So if sometimes we doctors can’t figure it out, how can we expect patients to get it right?
Let’s take a look at a Florida stem cell clinic who does a good job of mixing up reality. This provider is a physician with a complex last name, so I’ll refer to him as Dr. G. Let’s explore what’s on the web-site to get a sense of the problems.
From looking at the Dr. G web-site, a huge difference between the Regenexx site and this one becomes apparent. The Regenexx site is now about 2,000+ pages deep with information. Add to that the many books and research publications, and it’s easily 3,000 pages of content. The Dr. G site has about ten pages. So right off the bat, once you peel back the first layer of info, there’s not much there. However, let’s explore those few pages.
For someone who’s been using stem cells for 11 years, it’s always interesting to see how much experience a provider will claim to have. Why? We were the only clinic in the US performing this type of work in 2005. The first physicians outside of our clinic using stem cell injections in orthopedics didn’t begin until much later. So I was surprised to see that Dr. G makes a claim about extensive stem cell experience. Let’s see if that’s demonstrably true or false. The claim:
“Located in …Florida, we are the leader in Adult Stem Cell and Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) Procedures. We have performed these procedures for more than ten years with over 90 % results and ZERO side effects.”
Let’s take the first part first. Dr. G has performed these PRP and stem cell procedures for 10+ years. Thankfully, we can easily look this up online. According to the Internet archive, the first on-line appearance of the current domain and web-site for Dr. G is in March of 2014, a far cry from 10+ years ago! There is a second web-site that advertises face lifts and musculoskeletal treatments. That one goes back to November 2010! Curiously, despite claiming to have a decade of experience in stem cells, in 2010 there is no mention of stem cells on that web-site. At that point, the web-site looks to be similar to many cash based Florida practices that advertise that it can manage chronic pain, mostly through the use of opiods. When is the first mention of stem cells? In 2011! So Dr. G has about half the claimed experience. So strike 1.
Now let’s take the second part of that statement. Dr. G reports a 90% success rate and zero side effects. There is no data shown on Dr. G’s web-site. There are no publications listed in the US National Library of Medicine by Dr. G. There are no other publications that support a 90% patient-reported success rate for any of the technologies Dr. G uses. We have recently published the world’s largest safety paper with an excellent side effect profile, clearly beating the surgical complication rates that these procedures help many patients avoid. However, no medical procedure ever devised by man that begins with a needle or cannula taking tissue and placing that tissue back into a patient has zero side effects. In fact, our published side effects are clearly outlined in our publication. So are these statements remotely true? Nope. Stem cell therapy for arthritis and other conditions doesn’t have a 90% success rate and zero side effects. So this data is clearly fabricated by Dr. G or a surrogate. It’s disappointing that all of this looks much more like magic stem cell pixie dust than a real medical procedure.
Dr. G makes a point to compare what he’s doing to other clinics, including Regenexx, so let’s look at this comparison in more detail:
Let’s take these one at a time:
The upshot? It’s always entertaining to me to dissect the inaccuracies listed on magic pixie dust stem cell clinic sites. I always begin with the claim of experience, because if you’re willing to fabricate your resume, you’ll have no issues getting creative in other areas as well. Dr. G didn’t disappoint!
About the Author
Christopher J. Centeno, M.D. is an international expert and specialist in regenerative medicine and the clinical use of mesenchymal stem cells in orthopedics. He is board certified in physical medicine as well as rehabilitation and in pain management through The American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.…