The Federal Trade Commission and the Georgia Attorney General's Office sued the Stem Cell Institute of America, alleging that the company made false claims that its stem cell therapy is effective in treating arthritis, joint pain, and a range of other orthopedic ailments.  

The FTC and the Georgia AG alleged that, in order to attract patients, the Stem Cell Institute advertised and hosted free educational seminars on stem cell therapy, targeting consumers suffering from joint pain and other orthopedic conditions, including seniors and retirement communities.  At the end of the seminar, the Stem Cell Institute would attempt to schedule seminar attendees for consultations at its clinic.  The therapy itself cost about $5,000 per injection, with patients often receiving more than one injection. 

The FTC and the Georgia AG charged the company with making false claims about the effectiveness of its stem cell treatments, such as:

  • "Eliminate your knee pain with the industry's latest proven alternatives to surgery and steroids!"
  • "Learn How STEM CELL THERAPY Can Change Your Life"
  • "STOP the Pain!"
  • "Get relief without costly and painful surgery!"
  • "Regenerative medicine is now available locally and can effectively reduce and even eliminate your pain without surgery or addictive medications." 

They alleged, however, that the Stem Cell Institute has not conducted any randomized clinical testing of the advertised treatments demonstrating that they are effective and that there are no studies in the scientific literature establishing that they are effective as well. 

The complaint seeks injunctive relief, restitution, and civil penalties.  Notably, again, the FTC is partnering with a state attorney general to bring the action, presumably so that the FTC can seek financial remedies that would not otherwise be available to it due to the recent Supreme Court decision limiting the FTC's enforcement authority. 

As part of the announcement of the lawsuit, Samuel Levine, Acting Director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, "“These defendants advertised expensive stem cell injections with baseless pain-relief claims, and provided marketing materials and training to chiropractors to do the same.  With our partner, the Georgia Attorney General, we aim to ensure they can’t keep preying on older adults and others who need real medical help.”  Georgia Attorney General Chris Car added, "At best, the use of unproven products or therapies can cost consumers thousands of dollars without affording them any results.  At worst, it can be harmful to their health. Our office will continue to hold accountable businesses that make unsubstantiated claims and violate the law – especially those that target our older or at-risk adults.” 

Pursuing deceptive and fraudulent health claims has long been one of the FTC's top priorities.  This enforcement action also highlights the fact that the FTC is continuing to prioritize cases that impact older Americans.