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The Cost of Stem Cell Therapy in 2020

Louis A. Cona, M.D.

Dec 13, 2019

Under 5 minutes

How much does stem cell therapy cost? It can cost between $8000 - $30,000 USD per treatment for expanded mesenchymal stem cells. We explain the costs associated with stem cell treatment in 2020.

How much does stem cell therapy cost?

Stem cell therapies have become very popular in recent years, as people are seeking the latest alternative treatments for their many conditions. More and more types of therapies are being introduced every day, and people around the world are turning to them and rejecting traditional regimens of drugs and hospital visits. However, despite the large surge in demand for stem cell therapies, they still remain very expensive to pursue. Even simple joint injections can cost nearly $1,000 and more advanced treatments can rise in cost up to $100,000 depending on the condition. So, why are stem cell treatments so expensive?

How much does stem cell treatment cost?

Stem cell therapy cost can be influenced by:

  1. The type of stem cells administered
  2. Where the treatment is being performed
  3. If the cells have been culturally expanded
  4. If the cells are ethically sourced, viable & regulated
  5. Where the laboratory is located (for cell expansion)

It is also important to note that the cost of stem cell therapy will vary depending on the type of treatment needed. Stem cell therapy cost for knees may differ from stem cell therapy cost for COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). The area and issue being treated should generally influence the cost of the associated treatment because different cell types, cell counts and treatment protocols will be needed. For example, an effective stem cell therapy cost for MS will be much different than the cost of a site injection for localized pain.

Stem cell therapy cost can range anywhere between $5000 - $50,000. Patients must do their research and ask as many questions as they can before financially committing to treatment. Make sure to know how many cells you are getting, where those cells come from, if they are viable, is the clinic/lab is regulated, and ask for as detailed info to be provided as possible. When considering a potentially life-changing treatment, prospective patients should be weighing these other important factors, in addition to cost, when determining the best location for experimental procedures.

So why is it so expensive?

The short answer to that question is that the stem cell field is still highly specialized and has not been adopted by the mainstream and insurance companies. Additionally, the field is further restricted by older laws in the United States. That means that there are very few sources for stem cells, labs that are equipped to process stem cells, and reputable clinics that provide the treatments, most of which are located outside the US. Just as with an expensive food or item of clothing, the problem is with availability and production cost.

To fully understand the cost, you first have to look at the treatment preparation process. Stem cells are first acquired by companies that pay hospitals for donated cord tissue, or by doctors that perform fat tissue or bone marrow extractions. The cells are then sent to separate companies which run laboratories that specialize in stem cell expansion. These labs usually have very qualified and specialized staff members and are under the strict regulations of the FDA. The cells are then shipped in cryo-storage overnight around the world to the stem cell clinic. These clinics are staffed with doctors, nurses, and support staff that all play a part in the patient’s experience. This includes everything from marketing, to logistics and the actual medical care. In every stage of this process, there are heavy costs associated with time and labor, before the patient is ever given treatment.

How much does stem cell therapy cost?
Mindmap: How much does stem cell therapy cost?

How much do stem cell injections cost?

These treatments can range from $4000 - $8,000 in the United States. Adipose (fat) and Bone Marrow stem cell treatments can be effective for certain orthopedic conditions, but studies have shown that they are not a viable treatment option for chronic widespread inflammation or autoimmune conditions due to a variety of factors including lower cell count and potency. This is what makes expanded cord tissue-derived stem cells so revolutionary.

Allogenic stem cell therapy consists of cells extracted from cord tissue, or “Wharton’s Jelly”.Umbilical cord tissue can have some of the most powerful, primal mesenchymal stem cells that can be found.  Studies have shown that stem cells, at the point of birth are at their peak of potency, unaffected by the aging process or disease. However the administration of culturally expanded cells in the United States is largely not authorized according to FDA sections 351 and 361. Stem cell therapy cost for culturally expanded cells ranges from USD 15,000 - USD 30,000.

How long do stem cell injections last?

This can be influenced by a variety of factors. To make things simple at DVC Stem we inject over 300 million mesenchymal stem cells intravenously (IV). Currently DVC Stem's treatment protocol does not call for a specific re-treatment period. If patients are happy with the results, no other treatment is necessary. We do have patients return to us on an annual basis voluntarily to maintain sustained benefit.

Does Medicare cover stem cell therapy?

Medicare also does not cover stem cell therapy in the United States or internationally.

According to Medicare "Due to the experimental nature of most stem cell therapies, coverage through Medicare insurance for treatment with stem cell therapy is limited."

Legal Environment

Due to the nature of the laws in place, there are no forms of government assistance or incentives for any of these companies, unlike large drug companies. The cost of healthcare in the US is astronomical, but that is still with the large support structure in place for these healthcare companies. With no such support, the stem cell industry is left to provide treatment to patients, which incur most of the cost.Without coverage by most major insurance providers, the only option for patients is either to pay for treatment outright, fundraise for their treatment, or use forms of financing to fund themselves. In many ways, stem cell therapies are not priced differently than many major drugs and treatments, but patients do not always see the cost when working through their insurance. Stem cell therapy then becomes a personal choice. It is often sought after by patients that have had little success with conventional therapies, and wish to try an alternative. Stem cell medicine is still an emerging field and offers hope to many people to overcome their conditions.

Unfortunately, until stem cell medicine is more accepted into the mainstream and the laws are changed to encourage the field to develop, it will remain a highly specialized niche in healthcare. For this reason, treatment costs are not likely to change anytime soon. The best an inquiring patient can do is find a reputable clinic that provides treatments using the highest quality stem cells available to ensure they receive the best results possible.

DVC Stem

DVC Stem is a stem cell therapy pioneer, offering stem cell therapies for years and has become a cornerstone of the medical tourism industry. Located in the tropical paradise of Grand Cayman in the Western Caribbean, we offer patients a nearby alternative to traveling long distances and to less ideal locations. Our protocols are IRB approved, and our cells come from regulated, U.S. based, FDA compliant laboratories. We seek to offer the highest quality products, the latest available treatments for a variety of conditions, all combined with a world-class setting and service.

3 DAYS POST TREATMENT

Tyler explains his experience at DVC Stem in the Cayman Islands.

Tyler is optimistic that he will see positive results post treatment.

"The cool thing about the Cayman Islands besides being beautiful, it was an opportunity to get some rest and relaxation allowing my body to heal and restore. I'm back in the US now and feel like I am ready to conquer the world."

- Tyler Heid

2 WEEKS POST TREATMENT

2 weeks post treatment, MS patient Tyler is beginning to see amazing progress. He has been wheelchair bound for the last year and has not been able to move his legs unassisted before now.

Tyler Heid, lifting his foot 12" off the ground with 2 lb weights on his ankles.

Tyler - 2 weeks post treatment

"I'm on a path of progression and I'm getting better and better each day."

Tyler Heid - 2 months post treatment

2 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

Tyler updates about his progress, explaining the amazing response he has been receiving from his friends and family.

"People coming up to me saying I am moving, talking and smiling so much better. They are noticing a lot of things that have improved over the course of 3 months."

"This morning I was able to do things that I was unable to do before, I was able to stand up and lift my leg higher than I ever have before."

5 MONTHS POST TREATMENT

5 months post treatment Tyler sends us an update on his progress.

"I'm able to smile better, I have more control over the left side of my face."

"I have an increased ability to grip, lift my legs higher and higher which has gone well."

Tyler is optimistic and on the right track to recovery. We are ecstatic to see his progress and look forward to more updates from him.

"I have an increased ability to grip, lift my legs higher and higher which has gone well."

Tyler Heid - 5 months post treatment

"This is exciting stuff, god bless"

Matthew Murry - MS Patient

2 WEEKS POST TREATMENT

Matthew experiences sensation in the bottom of his feet after receiving a simple nerve test.

His left foot did not experience any sensation or move at all, but what happened to his right foot is extremely exciting!

David Lyons

Multiple Sclerosis

Although David Lyons was able to successfully fight Multiple Sclerosis through a strict regimen of diet and exercise, he wanted to ensure he was doing everything he could to stay fit. Multiple Sclerosis can be managed with treatment, but there is currently no cure for the disease. For that reason, David came to DVC Stem years ago to use the regenerative and anti-inflammatory attributes of stem cells to aid in his fight for fitness.

The positive results he experienced enabled David to stay strong in the gym, now into his 60s, and that is why he continues to support our clinic to this day.

About the author

LOUIS A. CONA, MD

Dr. Cona has been performing stem cell therapy for over 10 years. He is a member of the World Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine (WAAAM). He is also a recognized member of the British Medical Association, the General Medical Council (UK), the Caribbean College of Family Physicians, and the American Academy of Family Physicians. He is the Medical Director for DVC Stem a world-renowned stem cell therapy clinic located in Grand Cayman.

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