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Should We Call It Fraud?




I recently had the opportunity to chair an interdisciplinary workshop on stem cell tourism—the practice, that is, of marketing unproven stem cell therapies for a wide range of diseases and disabilities, drawing patients from around the world. The goal of the event was to produce a statement to educate Canadian family physicians about this troubling and exploitative phenomenon. We wanted to keep the statement basic and straightforward. “Let's simply call stem cell tourism what it is. It is fraud,” someone suggested. I wrote the word “fraud” on the flipchart at the front of the room, and everyone seemed comfortable with this frank declaration. But when I went to write up the first draft of our statement, I hesitated.