The Cost Of Stem Cell Therapy And Why It’s So Expensive …

By Dr. Matthew Watson

How much is stem cell therapy? As stated by CBC Canada,the cost of stem cell therapy is $5,000 to $8,000per stem cell treatment for patients. According to a Twitter poll by BioInformant, the cost can be even higher. Our May 2018 poll found that stem cell treatments can cost as much as $25,000 or more. This article explores the key factors that impact the cost of stem cell therapy, including the type of stem cells used within the protocol, the number of treatments required, and the site of theclinic. It also provides pricing quotes from stem cell clinics within the U.S. and worldwide.

In this article:

Stem cell therapy is the use of living cells as therapeutics to treat disease or injury. Read on to learn about the cost requirements of these procedures.

CBC Canadas pricing involves Cell Surgical Network (CSN) following its protocol to remove fat tissue and process it before re-injecting [adipose-derived stem cells] either directly or intravenously into the same patient. Unfortunately, the U.S. FDA and Department of Justice (DOJ) sent this network of stem cell treatment providers a permanent injunction notice in May 2018. Therefore, patients should not seek treatments from the group at this time.Although Cell Surgical Network (CSN) is based in California, it has a network of approximately 100 U.S. treatment centers. They also have three Canadian clinics located in Vancouver, Sudbury,andKamloops.

The controversy such as the one above stirs up questions about the safety of stem cell procedures. Anyone considering stem cell therapy from any tissue or source will benefit from understanding the possible consequences of stem cell therapy and the factors driving costs.

For the patient, a stem cell transplant involves multiple steps, including:

There are also real costs for the doctors who provide stem cell treatments. They have overhead costs, including:

There is also time and expertise required toperform the procedure and offer post-operative care. In some cases, the physician must pay licensing fees to access stem cell sourcing, processing, or delivery technologies.

Stem cell treatment has gained more and more traction over the last decade. It has been helped along by considerable advances in research. In 2017, the number of scientific publications about stem cells surpassed 300,000. The number of stem cell clinical trials has also surpassed4,600 worldwide.

However, stem cell therapy is still expensive. Among the cheapest and easiest options is to harvest adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) those that exist in adult fat layers and re-deliver them to the patient. Unlike harvesting from bone marrow or teeth, providers can feasibly remove fat, separate stem cells, then re-inject them into a patient the same day. This approach is typically less expensive than those that require more invasive procedures for harvesting. Because of its practicality in terms of cost, it has become a common approach to stem cell treatment.

Relatively easy harvesting stilldoesnt translate to inexpensive cost, although some are certainly more affordable than others. For orthopedic conditions, the costof stem cell therapy is typically lower, averaging between $5,000 and $8,000. Examples of these types of medical conditions include:

Note that these prices are typically out-of-pocket costs paid by the patientbecause most insurance companies will not cover them. They are considered experimental and unapproved by the FDA. This means patients needing stem cell treatment will need to use their own savings.

Although fat is a frequently utilized source for stem cells, it is also possible for physicians to utilize stem cells from bone marrow. Regenexx provides this service in the U.S. and Cayman Islands. With theRegenexxstem cell injection procedure, a small bone marrow sample is extracted through a needle, and blood is drawn from a vein in the arm. These samples are processed in a laboratory, and the cells it contains are injected into an area of the body that needs repair. On June 19, 2018, ACAP Health, a leading provider in innovative, clinical-based solutions partnered with Regenexx to reduce high-cost musculoskeletal surgeries.ACAP Health is a national leader in employer healthcare expense reduction. It is one of the first healthcare groups to partner with a stem cell treatment group to support insurance coverage to patients.

A recent Twitter poll conducted by BioInformant reported that, on average, patients can expect to spend $25,000 or more on stem cell therapies. According to the poll,

Most likely, those paying lower stem cell treatment costs under $5,000 were pursuing treatment for orthopedic or musculoskeletal conditions. In contrast, those paying higher treatment costs were likely getting treated for systemic or more complex conditions, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimers disease or dementia), psoriatic arthritis, as well as the treatment for autism.

In the U.S., treatment protocols vary depending on the clinic and the treating physician. A one-time treatment that utilizes blood drawn from a patient can cost as little as $1,500. However, protocols that utilize a bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue extraction can run as much as $15,000 $30,000. This is because bone marrow extraction is an invasive procedure that requires a penetrating bone and adipose tissue extraction requires a medical professional trained in liposuction.

For treatments that require a systemic or whole-body approach, the cost tends to be in the higher range, often averaging from $20,000 to $30,000. Examples of the diseases or conditions requiring this type of stem cell treatment include:

These higher costs reflect the complexity of treating these patients and the fact that multiple treatments are often required.

Founded by Dr. Neil Riordan, a globally recognized stem cell expert, theStem Cell Institutein Panama is one of the worlds most trusted adult stem cell therapy centers. Over the past 12 years, the center has performed more than10,000 procedures, making it a widely recognized destination for stem cell treatments.

Working in collaboration with universities and physicians worldwide, its stem cell treatment protocols utilize combinations of allogeneic human umbilical cord blood stem cells and autologous bone marrow stem cells to treat a wide variety of conditions.

A reader of BioInformant was recently treated for psoriatic arthritis at the Stem Cell Institute in Panama in early 2018. The price of his stem cell treatment was $22,000. With travel and lodging included, the total expenses were approximately $30,000.

Because of its proximity to the U.S., Mexico is increasingly becoming a destination for medical tourism.Before choosing a stem cell treatment provider in Mexico, ensure the clinic is fully authorized by COFEPRIS, the Mexican equivalent to the FDA.

One patient who recently shared stem cell treatment quotes with BioInformant found that the treatment for glycogen storage disease, a metabolic disorder that often onsets in infancy and continues into adulthood, would cost $23,900 throughGIOSTAR Mexico.

In contrast, the patient was quoted$33,000 throughCelltex, a U.S.-based company that treats patients in Cancun, Mexico.Celltex follows FDA regulations concerning the export of cells to Mexico and is compliant with the standards and procedures of COFEPRIS. Celltex also has an alliance with a certified hospital in Mexico, which is approved to receive cells and administer them to patients by a licensed physician.

In contrast, the patient was quoted $10,000 from Stem Cell Therapy of Las Vegas and Med Spa, an American clinic. This price difference may reflect regulatory restrictions that prevent U.S. providers from expanding cells. It may also reflect the therapeutic approach used by the clinic, as well as the quality of their expertise.

In Mexico, where certain types of stem cell expansion are allowed that are restricted within the U.S., treatment protocols vary depending on the clinic and the treating physician. A one-time treatment that utilizes peripheral blood from a patient can cost as little as $1,000. In contrast, protocols that utilize more invasive sources of stem cells can run as much as $15,000 $35,000. Examples of invasive procedures includebone marrow and adipose tissue extraction. In some cases, hospitalization may be required, which raises costs. The location of a stem cell facility can factor heavily into thecost of the procedure.

Not every cost associated with treatment gets billed to the patient at the time of the procedure. Hidden costs such as reactions to the treatment, graft-versus-host disease, or disability derived from the treatment can all result in more money to the patient, to insurance, or to the government.

For example, in the case of someone with cancer, it frequently isnt viable to harvest the patients own stem cells because they may contain cancerous cells that can reintroduce tumors to the body. Instead, the patient would receive stem cells by transplant. Treatments that involve cells from another person are called allogeneic treatments. The danger here is that the body may see those cells as invaders and attack them via the immune system, a condition known as graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). The body (host) and the introduced stem cells (graft) then battle rather than coexist.

Transplanted cells often face the risk of being rejected by their host; this article discusses the effect of plasma exchange on acute graft vs. host diseasehttps://t.co/cA3nzFntew

Katie Bunde (@kbuns76) May 29, 2018

In addition to making the stem cell treatments less effective or ineffective, GvHD can be deadly. Roughly30 to 60 percent ofhematopoieticstem cell and bone marrow transplantationpatients sufferfrom it, and of those, 50 percent eventually die. The hospital costs associated with it are substantial.

Another hidden cost is the potential to disrupt a system that formerly functioned adequately. The best current example of this isthe case of Doris Tyler, who received bilateral stem cell injections in her eyes from Drs.RobertHalpernand JamieWalraven of Stem Cell Center of Georgia. According to her, while her vision was failing, it was still good enough to perform various tasks, and now it is not. That means the cost increases for her, as well as potential insurance or disability claims (though again, insurance is unlikely to cover the specific consequences of this action).

Because of tight regulations surrounding stem cell procedures performed in the United States, many stem cell treatment providers provide both on-shore (U.S.-based) and offshore (international) treatment options.Depending on where a treatment is received, patients may have to pay travel, lodging,and miscellaneous expenditures.

For example, Regenexx offers treatments at a wide range of U.S. facilities using non-expanded stem cells. However, it also offers a laboratory-expanded treatment option at a site in the Cayman Islands, which can administer higher cell doses to patients by expanding the cells in culture within a laboratory.

Similarly, Okyanos (pronounced Oh key AH nos) offers treatments to patients at its Florida location and provides more involved stem cell procedures at its offshore site inGrand Bahama. It was founded in 2011 and is a stem cell therapy provider specializing in treatments for congestive heart failure (CHF) and other chronic conditions. It is fully licensed under the Bahamas Stem Cell Therapy and Research Act and adheres to U.S. surgical center standards.

Similarly, Celltex is headquartered in Houston, Texas, but offers stem cell treatments in Cancun, Mexico. Celltex specializes in storing a patients mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for therapeutic use.

While no hard evidence yet points to stem cell clinics raising their rates as a result of lawsuits, that is a typical response in industries whose products or services the public perceives as a high risk.

An additional danger to stem cell treatment providers,points out Nature, is the reduction of bottom-line profits through former patients winning suits. If clinics have to pay out the money they earned and then some to individuals suing for damages, they may soon become faced with an unviable business model. That is a definite concern for those hoping to leverage these treatments now and in the future.

As with any other area of medicine, patient evaluations of stem cell providers and treatments run the gamut from extremely satisfied to desolately unhappy. Those like Doris Tyler who have lost their eyesight exist at the negative end of the spectrum. However, many others praise stem cell treatments for their power to heal diseases, boost immunity, fight cancer, and more.

For example, BioInformants Founder and President, Cade Hildreth, had a favorable experience with stem cell therapy. Cade had bone marrow-derived stem cells collected and then had them re-injected into the knee to treat a devastating orthopedic injury. Cade was able to reverse pain, swelling, and scarring to reclaim an elite athletic ability.

As of now, this much is clear. There exists enough interest in America and across the world that stem cell providers are continuing to offer a wide range of treatments. Stem cell treatments also offer the potential to reverse diseases that traditionally had to be chronically managed by drugs. Like most medical practices, stem cell treatments will require further testing to reveal merits and faults. Until then, the public will likely continue to pursue services when medical needs arise.

Although the cost of stem cell therapy is pricey, some patients choose to undergo the treatment because it is more economical than enduring the costs associated with chronic diseases.

Although most stem cell therapy providers do not provide FDA-approved procedures, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to encouragepatients to pursue approved therapies, even if there is a higher associated treatment cost.

Providers rarely post their prices for stem cell treatments in print or digital media because they want patients to understand the benefits of therapy before making a price decision. Additionally, the price of stem cell treatments varies by condition, the number of treatments required, and the complexity of the procedure, factors that can make it difficult for medical providers to provide cost estimates without a diagnostic visit for the patient. However, in many cases, it is not in the patients best interest to make treatment decisions based on the cost of stem cell therapy. The best way to know whether to pursue stem cell therapy is to explore patient outcomes by condition and compare the healing process to other surgical and non-surgical treatment options.

The cost of stem cell therapy is indeed expensive, especially because the procedures are rarely covered by health insurance. However, with the right knowledge and a clear understanding of the treatment process, the risk of undergoing stem cell therapy can be worth it, especially if it removes the requirement for a lifetime of prescription medication. Although stem cell therapy has associated risks, it has improved thousands of lives and will continue to play in a key role in the future of modern medicine.

Download this infographic for your reference:

Are you seeking a stem cell treatment? If so, we have partnered with GIOSTAR to help you acccess medical guidance and advice.

In alignment with what we believe at BioInformant, GIOSTARs goal is to offer cutting-edge, extensively researched stem cell therapy options designed to rejuvenate and improve a patients quality of life.

Click here to Schedule a Consultation or ask GIOSTAR a question.

If you found this blog valuable, subscribe to BioInformants stem cell industry updates.

As the first and only market research firm to specialize in the stem cell industry, BioInformant research is cited by The Wall Street Journal, Xconomy, AABB, and Vogue Magazine. Bringing you breaking news on an ongoing basis, we encourage you to join more than half a million loyal readers, including physicians, scientists, executives, and investors.

Do you think the cost of stem cell therapy is too much? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Cost Of Stem Cell Therapy And Why Its So Expensive

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