ORLANDO, Fla. — Local stem cell clinics claim its the future of medicine and a single shot could ease chronic pain, but Action 9 went inside a stem cell seminar to find out what potential patients are not told.
Consumer investigator Todd Ulrich found consumers paying thousands for treatment federal regulators don't approve because it’s considered experimental and risky.
“Hello Doctor. Todd Ulrich from Channel 9,” Ulrich said. “How are you doing?” replied chiropractor, Dr. Frank Lanzisera.
He had just finished a hotel seminar telling a few dozen people, stem cells could change their lives. Just one injection to treat chronic back, shoulder, or knee pain.
Dr. Lanzisera’s clinic, Total Regenerative Therapy in Celebration, uses stem cells to help the body repair itself.
“Isn't this a stem cell oversell?” Ulrich asked.
“I don't doubt there are people overselling it. We're not overselling It,” Dr. Lanzisera said.
An Action 9 producer and a senior volunteer attended the seminar. No one was allowed to record the presentation. But the volunteer heard the clinic's stem cell treatment offered dramatic results.
“What is this one shot going to do?” Ulrich asked.
“It will never cure you, but there will be no more pain,” replied the senior volunteer.
She said he told the audience the clinic used cord stem cells donated by pre-screened mothers and babies and his clinic followed FDA guidelines.
“It's from a new mother, that's a brand-new cell and there would be no risk from that,” said the volunteer.
In the seminar and on its website the clinic offered patient testimonials.
“And suddenly I was pain free,” said a patient in a video.
The stem cell shot cost nearly $4,000.
The FDA published warnings in 2017, 2018, and again early this year. The warnings involve clinics that offer cord stem cell too.
What the volunteer didn't hear is that the FDA recently warned that many stem cell clinics offer treatments that are unproven, unregulated, and could be risky.
“You say there have been thousands and thousands of injections and no bad side effects,” Ulrich said. “That's just not the case.”
“Can you show me the references of the bad cases?” Dr. Lanzisera asked.
“Oh, my goodness,” Ulrich said. “Can you?” Dr. Lanzisera asked again.
“We both felt like we had flu like symptoms,” Tonya Woodward said.
She and her husband, Allen, are disabled veterans who live near Ocala.
Along with Allen's father-in law, they paid a different stem cell clinic in Tampa $30,000 to treat severe spine and neck pain.
“We were sick for months,” Allen Woodward said.
The Woodwards say stem cells didn't ease their pain at all but caused other medical problems.
“It's not what they say it is. And it's not tested, and it's not proven,” Tonya Woodward said.
At the Total Regenerative seminar, our volunteer heard only one mention that it’s experimental treatment.
On its website, in its smallest print, there is a disclaimer that says except for bone marrow cancer, the FDA considers all stem cell treatment experimental.
“Everyone's hopeful the future is there. Critics say it’s not today,” Ulrich said.
“But does everyone have 30 years to wait?” Dr. Lanzisera asked.
A clinic patient did contact Ulrich, saying she's been pain free since treatment, with no side effects.
Florida lawmakers are considering a measure that would restrict the sale of unproven stem cell treatments.
Cox Media Group