Sunday 18 November 2018

Sick 'may spend thousands with no benefit'

Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

A SPECIALIST treating multiple sclerosis patients yesterday warned those seeking stem-cell treatment may end up bankrupting themselves without any medical benefit.

Orla Hardiman, a neurologist at Beaumont Hospital in Dublin, likened people offering this unproven treatment to 19th Century carpetbaggers. She said stem-cell treatment for brain disorders did not work on animals and may be unsafe for human use.

But despite the warnings, large numbers of people with MS have had the treatment. At the time the clinic in Carrigaline, operated in the premises of Dr John Dunphy, was closed down in early April around 400 people were reportedly booked for a session there.

However, from April 7, a new EU Directive transposed into Irish law governing human tissues and cells means a licence has to be applied for to the Irish Medicines Board in order to allow it to be administered here.

Although some patients have testified that they have seen an improvement in their condition after the treatment, experts here say this is due to placebo effect which does not bring about any real change.

Dr Dunphy, whose surgery was used by the Swiss-based firm Advanced Cell Therapeutics (ACT) claimed he had been the victim of an orchestrated campaign.

In a letter to the Irish Medical Times last week, he said that "grossly exaggerated prices have been reported when, in fact, ACT offers a price range to reflect the financial circumstances of individual patients".

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