Author(s): Zarzeczny A, Caulfield T
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Abstract While the clinical promise of much stem cell research remains largely theoretical, patients are nonetheless pursuing unproven stem cell therapies in jurisdictions around the world--a phenomenon referred to as "stem cell tourism." These treatments are generally advertised on a direct-to-consumer basis via the Internet. Research shows portrayals of stem cell medicine on such websites are overly optimistic and the claims made are unsubstantiated by published evidence. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that parents are pursuing these "treatments" for their children, despite potential physical and financial risk. Physicians are in a unique position as they can be expected to be involved in, or privy to, such decisions. In this paper, we consider what duties physicians may have toward minor patients whose parents/guardians wish to engage in stem cell tourism on their behalf. We use the Canadian perspective to address the broadly relevant issues raised by this trend.
This article was published in Am J Bioeth
and referenced in Journal of Stem Cell Research & Therapy