The BIDMC Lung Health Institute is a multidisciplinary research programme dedicated to the prevention of respiratory diseases. The Institute's primary mission is to identify preventable causes of chronic lung disease and to translate research findings into patient care and health policies that improve lung health. The use of stem cells for the treatment of lung diseases has great appeal. As we learn more about the therapeutic potential of stem cells and other cell therapies in clinical trials for non-pulmonary diseases, we hope to move towards greater consideration of these approaches in lung diseases.
Some places claim that intravenous injections of forms of PRP, as in the case of the Lung Health Institute, or stem cells can help respiratory problems, while others promote what might generally be called inhalation (or airway infusion) of stem cells or, at least, materials purported to contain stem cells. This left me a little perplexed by the marketing verbiage of the Lung Health Institute, including the statement quoted above. Rivero and 34 other former patients have filed a lawsuit accusing the Lung Health Institute of deceptive marketing practices. More generally, the American Lung Association and other organisations recommend against the use of stem cells for lung disease at this time.
Former patients of the Tampa-based Lung Health Institute claim they were encouraged to take out bank loans or borrow money from family members. This post is a review and fact check of the biomedical offerings in this area, including especially that of the Lung Health Institute. Late last year, the Lung Health Institute was acquired by Medovex, a medical technology products company run by former Laser Spine executive William "Bill Horne". The Post also interviewed 14 former Lung Health Institute employees, including marketers, doctors, nurses and patient coordinators, whose job it is to talk to potential customers.
When contacted by phone, Behfar said he was unaware that patients had accused the Lung Health Institute of deceptive marketing and sued the company with which it was associated. After the FDA began cracking down on fat-based stem cell treatments, Lung Health Institute stopped selling them and focused on selling its blood-based treatments. It appears, based on its website, that Lung Health Institute is selling more specifically the IV administration of a form of PRP. However, months later, the website continues to host thousands of fundraising campaigns for stem cell treatments, including more than a hundred that mention Lung Health Institute by name.
Even in a booming industry long denounced by medical experts, the Lung Health Institute has been singled out for aggressive marketing and unproven claims. In terms of direct-to-consumer offerings, stem cell or regenerative cell clinic companies such as the Lung Health Institute (below) have often evolved to meet various regulatory and other challenges.