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National Apex Committee for Stem Cell Research and Therapy partners ASCI for ad monitoring

MUMBAI: The National Apex Committee for Stem Cell Research and Therapy (NAC – SCRT) has associated with the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to address issues on misleading advertisements promoting stem cell therapy of unapproved indications in India.

They will monitor ads that claim stem cell-based therapies. The need arises because several clinics and organisations advertise in ways that attract vulnerable patients for therapies whose safety and efficacy is not established.

ASCI chairman Narendra Ambwani said, “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.”

As per the National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research 2013, there are no approved indications for stem cell therapy other than the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation (HSCT) for haematological disorders.

NAC-SCRT chairman Alok Srivastava said, “Advertisements claiming to offer stem cell based therapies other than Haematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantations for blood diseases are in violation of the clause 10.3.1 of the National Guidelines for Stem Cell Research-2013. 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.”

NAC-SCRT has observed that several clinicians, companies and hospitals advertise stem cell based therapies other than haematopoietic 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.

“NAC-SCRT will be reviewing the developments in the field and modifying its position with regard to proven therapies from time to time,” Srivastava added.