Medical groups get support over bid for free stem cell

TWENTY-TWO medical organizations pushing for the free stem cell treatment in the country on Tuesday got a shot in the arm as the co-chairperson of the Philippine Health Research Ethics Board (PHREB) expressed agreement to their position.

In a weekly forum in Quezon City, PHREB co-chairperson Dr. Marita Reyes said it is only right that the patient undergoing stem cell therapy will not be charged, especially since the amount involved is millions of pesos.

"The one who will carry the most risk should not be made to pay," opined Reyes.

Over the weekend, 22 medical organizations said that stem cell therapy should be given free based on ethical standards.

"When stem cell is given under a clinical study, it is unethical to make patients pay for the treatment. The cost of treatment should be shouldered by the sponsor of the study," said the organizations in their position paper.

However, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Enrique Ona rejected this. Ona said, the country cannot afford to make service providers shoulder the cost of the stem cell treatment.

This was despite his admission that the government has yet to approve any type of stem cell treatment and that those practiced here can still be considered as "clinical trials."

According to Reyes, such a statement from the Health chief is just unfortunate.

"Sino ba ang may risk? Ang pasyente. Tapos siya pa ang magbabayad? Excuse me. Hindi ba medyo unjust naman yon," said Reyes.

Stem cell therapy is a type of intervention strategy that introduces new adult stem cells into damaged tissue in order to treat disease or injury and has recently seen growing popularity in the country. (HDT/Sunnex)

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Medical groups get support over bid for free stem cell

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