Stem cell therapy ads under ASCI's scanner

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | February 17, 2015
The regulatory organisation will scan misleading ads by several clinics whose safety and efficacy are not established.

Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has partnered with the National Apex Committee for Stem Cell Research and Therapy (NAC-SCRT) to monitor advertisements that claim stem cell based therapies. The development comes in the wake of several clinics, whose safety and efficacy are not established, advertising therapies to attract vulnerable patients.

As per the National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research- 2013, there are no approved indications for stem cell therapy other than the Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) for haematological disorders. NAC-SCRT has observed that several clinicians / companies / hospitals advertise stem cell based therapies other than hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for haematological disorders on their websites. These therapies are currently investigational and must be conducted only within the scope of clinical trials.

Prof. Alok Srivastava, chairman, NAC-SCRT, says, "We have asked ASCI to review such advertisements and are happy that action has been initiated against 23 such websites. It is necessary that such misleading advertisements be removed and action be taken against the defaulters, unless they are suitably modified to clarify the unproven nature of these therapies and are only offered within approved clinical trials. The NAC-SCRT will be reviewing the developments in the field and modifying its position with regard to proven therapies from time to time."

Narendra Ambwani

Narendra Ambwani, chairman, ASCI, states, "Since the stem cell based therapies are currently experimental / investigational, advertising these for indications not approved by regulatory authorities is in violation of Chapter III of the ASCI code for Self-Regulation of Advertisements. The code requires that advertisements should not propagate products or services, the use of which is banned under the law. ASCI will be partnering with the Ministry of Health to curb such unlawful advertisements promoting medical practices not approved by regulatory authorities."

ASCI has processed complaints against website advertisements highlighted by NAC-SCRT for violation of the clause 10.3.1 of the National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research 2013 NAC-SCRT. Several advertisers have immediately started amending the website content.

NAC-SCRT is the apex body constituted by the Department of Health Research, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, with subject experts and representatives from different scientific organisations and regulatory agencies to oversee the activities in the field of stem cell research and therapy in India. The NAC-SCRT examines the scientific, technical, ethical, legal and social issues involving stem cell research and therapy in India.