Stem cell therapy not effective nor safe for diabetes, doctors say
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Experts from the the Philippine Society of Endocrinology and Metabolism (PSEM) made this announcement during a press conference held on Tuesday, saying that "no conclusive evidence that stem cell therapy is effective and safe for diabetes."
"As such, it cannot be made available to individuals with diabetes as a standard treatment like the usual drug prescriptions. Stem cell can only be given to individuals with diabetes under controlled conditions such as, under experimental protocols of clinical trials," a statement from the PSEM said, quoting Dr. Cecilia Jimeno, PSEM President.
PSEM, a subspecialty organization under the Philippine College of Physicians, as well as the PCP itself, belong to a coalition of other medical societies, academic institutions and other health groups that have organized themselves to educate the public about stem cell therapy.
The coalition maintains that the effectiveness and safety of stem cell have unproven indications yet on heart, lung, neurologic, rheumatologic, kidney and gastrointestinal diseases, diabetes mellitus, hypertension, autism, cancer, aging and aesthetics, HIV, AIDS, and other conditions.
These groups have issued a public advisory to caution diabetes patients and their families who may be "vulnerable to exploitation," the statement said.
"Other types involve claims using anecdotes advertised and endorsed by well-known personalities who have no scientific credibility to make such claim, except for his or her limited experience. The public needs protection from this unethical use of still unproven therapy which may have unknown and unquantified harmful effects. For PCP, exposing our patients to these unknown risks is ethically unacceptable," Dr. Priscilla Caguioa, PCP President, said in the same statement.
Patients receiving stem cell therapy under clinical trials should not pay for these experimental treatments and must sign an informed consent form that explains the procedure, its benefits, and possible harms, the statement said.
The PSEM together with the Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) expressed concern that patients who are usually very sick may easily be swayed to use unproven therapies because of the hope for cure.
Under Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Circular No. 2013-020 dated August 13, 2013, only hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, corneal resurfacing with limbal stem cells, and skin regeneration with epidermal stem cells for burns are the three standards of health care that are generally recognized by the Food and Drug Administration, the statement said.
“Stem cell provides medical practitioners an innovative approach to restore health and offers the patients alternative choices. However, the promise of stem cell therapy must be backed by science- and evidence-based medicine, before it can be part of the standard health care. Any clinical use of stem cell products outside of the FDA-approved indications is illegal,” Jimeno added.