Contributed by Jim Nelson, consultant to CAIRE Inc. ~
When a patient and/or a caregiver is faced with a chronic disease such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), it is awfully easy to fall into the trap of seeking a cure! Any cure! This is not a modern attitude, by any means. Have you heard the old term “snake oil?” Unscrupulous tradesmen traveled the Old West peddling bottles of concoctions that were reputed to cure just about anything.
We snicker at the thought of frontierspersons spending their hard-earned dollars on some mysterious substance that claimed to be a cure for everything from a cough to cancer. Hair loss or impotence or indigestion held no fear for the citizens of the late 1800s. If they had a couple of bucks handy, they could avail themselves of an ornately-designed bottle containing many mysterious substances, almost certainly including alcohol and/or cocaine. The addictive nature of the major ingredients did not hurt the repeat sales of the product.
Interestingly, if you Google “snake oil” today you will find numerous products named just that, which people will gleefully sell to you. Few of them claim to cure cancer or aids or other dire ailments, but I guess it just shows you that there is a market for just about anything.
If you have followed my writings for very long, you will have seen at least one of my diatribes about the stem cell clinics that have sprung up across the United States over the past few years. Not unlike the old snake oil salesmen, they are preying upon sick people, people who are desperate to find a cure at any cost. And costly it is … Treatments range upwards into the tens of thousands of dollars. As a possible indicator of the validity of the treatments, no insurance company anywhere will cover the procedures.
The extraction, processing, and reintroduction of the patient’s fat or blood or whatever stem cells is not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For those of you who consider the FDA as just one more governmental regulatory agency designed to control our lives, I urge you to consider that the organization has saved us from countless procedures and medications that would do us harm. Without the FDA or some similar organization, we would all be walking around with little bottles of cocaine and alcohol and God knows what else.
As I have stated so many times, the proprietors of the stem cell clinics have found a way to fleece those who are desperate, and who have the means to pay the tab. What, the average patient may ask, can be the harm? It is, after all, my money and my life and my decision!
Valid arguments, but one should also factor in the fact that most of the treatments have done nothing useful, some have actually harmed the patients, and some may have contributed to the premature demise of the recipient of the treatments. Hence, I suspect, the warnings issued by the FDA, by the American Lung Association, by the COPD Foundation, and by many others charged with protecting the health of those with chronic diseases.
So, off to the courts! The stem cell industry falls into a very grey area of the law, an area that has made it very difficult for anyone to regulate them. The recent victory to which I refer in my title is, hopefully, the first of many. Read more about the recent FDA ruling by clicking this link.
I find it extremely upsetting that a group of self-proclaimed “experts” should be allowed to take advantage of the fears of the unfortunate.
Love you all,
Jim Nelson is a double lung transplant recipient and a patient advocate for COPD patients throughout the U.S. and around the world. He and his wife, Mary, are well known patient advocates and brand ambassadors for those organizations who tirelessly endeavor to help those individuals who suffer from a variety of respiratory diseases and the caregivers who support them.
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