Responsibility to Protect

Whose responsibility is it to protect desperate and often ill-informed people who subject themselves to wacky unproven treatments and suffer serious harm as a result?

Three elderly women in Florida suffered irreparable damage to their vision after allowing stem cells to be injected directly into their eyeballs.

The women had macular degeneration, an eye disease that causes vision loss, and they paid $5,000 each to receive stem-cell injections in 2015 at a private clinic in Sunrise, Fla. The clinic was part of a company then called Bioheart, now called U.S. Stem Cell. Staff members there used liposuction to suck fat out of the women’s bellies, and then extracted stem cells from the fat to inject into the women’s eyes.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/15/health/eyes-stem-cells-injections.html?emc=edit_th_20170316&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=51947848

Gross. I’d like to think I wouldn’t fall for something so bizarre, but who knows what I’d do if I were desperate enough and was offered treatment that sounded slightly less nasty than stem cells made out of belly fat shot directly into my eyes.

The current administration is taking a wrecking ball to regulations of all types, so it’s likely that in the future there will be less protection against treatments like this, not more. Is that what we want as a society, an unfettered “let the buyer beware”? I’m not sure that worked well for the elderly women who are now blind as a result of their treatment. Two of them have settled with the clinic for undisclosed sums of money, but they still can’t see and probably never will again.

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