There is medical tourism to locations that provide state of the art medical treatment and there is medical tourism to sites that promise cutting edge treatments that don’t work. This Harvard panel discusses the issue and one professor calls for drastic measures.
Thousands, if not tens of thousands, of desperate people are flocking to clinics that charge tens of thousands of dollars for every unproven treatment. That “stem cell tourism” was the subject of a panel discussion titled “Stem Cell Therapy and Medical Tourism: Of Promise and Peril?” presented Wednesday by the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) and the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics.[T]he overseas clinics selling stem cell therapy for a sweeping catalog of diseases aren’t offering patients places in clinical trials. They are touting what they claim are established treatments, with proven results.
Glenn Cohen, an assistant professor at Harvard Law School, suggested a drastic way to slow stem cell tourism – prosecute for child abuse when the treatment involves minors. He says he is sympathetic to parents who believe they are helping their children, but that that pediatricians in the United States should try to convince parents to use proven therapies, dissuade them from using unproven therapies, and then threaten to report them to the authorities for abuse.
This brings up a huge list of questions including those about ethics, parental rights and what constitutes a questionable treatment. Would it be Burzynski’s clinic? It certainly is an unproven treatment.
Tip: Pete Ford