WHAT DOES A STEM CELL TREATMENT TYPICALLY COST?
In today’s world of regenerative/stem cell medicine there are numerous types of products out there in the market and it can be extremely confusing to the normal everyday person with no medical or scientific background, especially to understand the true stem cell therapy cost. You have unscrupulous clinics marketing amniotic products, cord blood products, and placental products as “stem cell” treatments when in essence there are no “live” cells in these products. These unscrupulous cast of characters typical prey on older patients that are looking for these treatments and the sales pitch is that these cells are “younger” and will work much better. The reality is that this is not a true statement since the aforementioned products contain no “live” cells. For these types of procedures, the cost can vary from $5,000 to $8000 for a joint injection.
For an “autologous” (meaning cells derived from the patient’s own tissue) stem cell treatment prices can vary from $5000 to $8000 for a single treatment. There are more comprehensive stem cell treatments that need to be performed in a hospital and these can run up $25,000 and more.
Autologous stem cell therapies use live human cells that are harvested from the patient and used that vary same day. The tissue that is used whether it is Adipose Tissue (Fat Tissue), Bone Marrow, or Peripheral Blood it must go through a protocol that normally consists of harvesting, isolate and activate the stem cells, and finally application which is typically localized injection or intravenous to start the healing process and treat disease.
The patient in order to receive one of these treatments most go through some very basic steps. The first step is a complete medical evaluation, extraction of tissue, blood, or bone marrow, application of the stem cells, post op monitoring with monthly follow ups. There are many costs involved for the physician when it comes to these therapies. Doctors must have training in whatever protocol they chose to use and that has a cost of $3,000 to $10,000 depending on the training program. The physician in addition has costs lab space, lab equipment, kits, office medical staff, Malpractice Insurance, and admin costs. These protocols are very labor intensive and take 3-4 hours and the patient stays in the Doctor’s office usually the entire day.
Over the past decade, the field of regenerative medicine and adult stem cell treatments are gaining more and more popularity. Unfortunately, there are very few reputable companies in the United States that perform these treatments properly. Studies on the topic have also increased substantially with over 300,000 available to review and clinical trials are close to 5,000.
You would think that with the growing interest and the fact that stem cell clinics are popping up all over the United States prices would level off just because of basic supply and demand, however this is not the case. The most simple and accessible option is obtaining the cells from the bone marrow, secondly peripheral blood, and lastly adipose tissue. Still due to factors mentioned above the average costs can still range from $5,000 to $8,000 for localized orthopedic injections, such as knee, shoulders, hips, and back.
Since these procedures are not FDA approved, reason being the FDA has nothing to approve if you are using the patient’s own cells and there is no drug involved. Remember the FDA stands for The Food and “DRUG” Administration, insurance companies will not shell out any monies for these treatments. Since autologous stem cell treatments are considered experimental, the patient must pay out of pocket.
There is a big push from academics and Big Pharma to make these treatments illegal. There is nothing to patent therefore no money to be made so they are angry! Universities receive large grants from Big Pharma, so they also feel threatened by the fact that hundreds of thousands of patients have received benefits from stem cell treatments they cannot commercialize and fleece the American public. Therefore, if the FDA and Big Pharma succeed in their quest to continue to hurt the American public in order to make a profit, American patients will be forced to go abroad to receive these treatments and end up paying far more.
According to a poll conducted by Bioinformant 30% of respondents spent $5,000.00 or less on stem cell treatments; 20% spent $5-10,000; 40% spent $10-25,000; and 10% spent over $25,000.00. Those that spent less than $5,000.00 were most likely pursuing treatment of orthopedic or musculoskeletal conditions. Those paying higher were most likely pursuing treatments for systemic or more complex conditions such as multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases.
Stem Cell protocols vary from clinic to clinic depending on the training of that specific Doctor. One-time peripheral blood stem cell treatments can be as little as $1,900 and protocols utilizing bone marrow or fat tissue can run $15,000-$30,000.
Systemic or whole body approaches of treatment tend to have costs in higher ranges most often averaging $20-30,000.00 or more; these treatments can be for such diseases as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, psoriatic or rheumatoid arthritis, and neurodegenerative disease like dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Higher costs reflect complexity of treatments and multiple treatments being required.
There is no evidence pointing to clinics raising costs as a result of lawsuits, but this is a typical industry response for high risk services with reduction of bottom line profits through lawsuits. Depending where treatment is received patients may also have to pay for travel and lodging.
Cost of stem cell therapy may seem expensive, however those who using this option feel it is more economical than enduring costs associated with chronic disease. Cost alone should never be the deciding factor in stem cell therapies. The clinics reputation, physician’s reputation, physician training, and patient results should also be highly considered.
These treatments though they are not cheap the benefits can clearly surpass the costs. Living with a chronic disease is not a fun experience and prescription medicine can be very expensive over time. Stem Cell treatments are more than proven to have help hundreds of thousands perhaps millions around the world today. Stem Cell and Regenerative medicine is here today, and patients should have this option available to them.
The American people need to be aware and educate themselves in stem cell therapies. The FDA and Big Pharma are looking to close the door on the future of medicine and make it impossible for a physician to carry out these procedures.
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