Google said Friday that it would no longer accept ads for “unproven or experimental medical techniques,” including most stem cell therapy, cellular therapy, and gene therapy, according to news reports.
The company, based in Mountain View, California, attributed its decision to “a rise in bad actors” trying to take advantage of patients by offering “untested, deceptive treatments,” The Washington Post reports.
“These treatments can lead to dangerous health outcomes and we feel they have no place on our platforms,” Google said in a blog post cited by the newspaper.
The policy change would prohibit ads for treatments that have “no established biomedical or scientific basis,” the blog said.
Google’s reversal, the Post reports, comes as “stem cell clinics have grown into a sprawling direct-to-consumer industry.”
Some clinics, according to the newspaper, have told patients that their treatments can help them with such ailments as ALS, multiple sclerosis, macular degeneration, and degenerative lung diseases.
Scientists and medical associations have derided the procedures, slamming them as “modern snake oil” and accusing agents of preying on seriously ill patients.
The untested treatments, many researchers say, are imperiling patients and the reputation of a promising field, the Post reports.
In addition, some treatments have resulted in severe injuries, according to the Post, including at least five women who were blinded after stem cell clinics injected products into their eyes.
“Google’s new policy banning advertising for speculative medicines is a much-needed and welcome step to curb the marketing of unscrupulous medical products,” Deepak Srivastava, president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, told the Post.
The scientist group, based in Skokie, Illinois, advised Google on the policy change.
“The premature marketing and commercialization of unproven stem cell products threatens public health, the confidence in biomedical research, and undermines the development of legitimate new therapies,” Srivastava said.