The marketing of unproven stem cell therapies is a growing international policy dilemma. Leveraging the excitement surrounding the legitimately promising advances that have occurred in the field, clinics in jurisdictions all over the world, including Canada and the US, are using websites, social media, the registration of clinical trials, questionable research publications and word-of-mouth to attract patients. There is also a growing market for stem cell treatments for sports injuries, cosmetic issues and as an anti-aging tool. The exploitation of emerging fields of research – a phenomenon called scienceploitation – and the manipulation of “tokens of legitimacy” are becoming significant social issues that are relevant to other domains (e.g., personalized medicine and microbiome research). This presentation will explore: 1) the nature and scope of the problem; 2) the social and individual harms; 3) the drivers that have facilitated the growth of the industry; and 4) possible policy responses.
(Caufield, Timothy) Timothy Caulfield is a Canada Research Chair in Health Law and Policy, a Professor in the Faculty of Law and the School of Public Health, and Research Director of the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. His interdisciplinary research on topics like stem cells, genetics, research ethics, the public representations of science and health policy issues has allowed him to publish over 350 academic articles. He has won numerous academic and writing awards and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, the Trudeau Foundation and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. He contributes frequently for the popular press and is the author of two national bestsellers: The Cure for Everything: Untangling the Twisted Messages about Health, Fitness and Happiness (Penguin 2012) and Is Gwyneth Paltrow Wrong About Everything?: When Celebrity Culture and Science Clash (Penguin 2015). Caulfield also has a strong social media presence and is the host and co-producer of the documentary TV show, A User’s Guide to Cheating Death.