How much is stem cell therapy? According to analysis by BioInformant, the cost of stem cell therapy ranges from less than $5,000 for simple procedures to $25,000 or more for complex ones. In general, stem cell treatment procedures are paid out-of-pocket by patients, because they are not covered by medical insurance. The cost of platelet rich therapy (PRP), which can be used separately or in conjunction with stem cell therapy, is typically $500-700, but may be as high as $2,000 at some locations.
This article explores the key factors that impact the cost of stem cell therapy, including the:
- type/source of stem cells used within the protocol
- number of treatments required
- quality of the clinic
- experience of the physician
It also provides pricing quotes from stem cell clinics within the U.S. and worldwide.
In this article:
- What is the Cost of Stem Cell Therapy?
- Why Is Stem Cell Therapy So Expensive?
- Less Expensive Stem Cell Costs
- The Cost of Stem Cell Therapy in the U.S.
- Stem Cell Treatment in Panama
- Stem Cell Therapy Costs in Mexico
- Complications Raising the Costs of Stem Cell Treatment
- Stem Cell Tourism
- Stem Cell Treatment Risks and Benefits
- Stem Cell Treatment Outcomes
- Stem Cell Therapy Procedures
If you are seeking individualized advice instead of market averages, click here to contact GIOSTAR, a global stem cell company that has treated a large number of patients.
The Cost of Stem Cell Therapy | A Closer Look
Stem cell therapy is the use of living cells as therapeutics to treat disease or injury. Read on to learn about the cost requirements of these procedures.
What Is the Cost of Stem Cell Therapy?
To determine the cost of stem cell therapy, BioInformant asked people within our readership who received stem cell treatments to send us their costs of stem cell treatment. Many readers sent us their invoices for treatment (with personal details retracted). We also conducted a Twitter poll, which received hundreds of responses.
According to the poll:
- 30% of the respondents undergoing stem cell treatments spent $5,000 or less
- 20% spent $5,000 to $10,000
- 40% spent $10,000 to $25,000
- 10% spent over $25,000
The Twitter poll reported that, on average, patients can expect to spend from under $5,000 to $25,000 or more on stem cell therapies. In general, orthopedic treatments are less expensive, while treatments for chronic and complex conditions are more expensive.
Most of those paying lower stem cell treatment costs under $5,000 were pursuing treatment for orthopedic or musculoskeletal conditions.
In contrast, most of the individuals who paid higher treatment costs were getting treated for systemic or more complex conditions, such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia), psoriatic arthritis, or autism.
My Stem Cell Treatment Costs
Because I am a stem cell patient, I can also report my own treatment costs.
I paid $6,500 for a stem cell treatment on one knee in 2014, which was completed at the National Spine and Pain Center in Fairfax, VA. To comply with FDA standards, the procedure I had was a same-day, autologous (“self-derived”), minimally manipulated procedure using bone marrow derived stem cells. The procedure was completed by Dr. Mayo Friedlis.
As a final metric, CBC Canada shares that the cost of stem cell therapy is $5,000 – $8,000 per stem cell treatment for the Cell Surgical Network (CSN) following its protocol to collected fat tissue and process it before re-injecting it directly or intravenously into the same patient.
Why Is Stem Cell Therapy So Expensive?
Stem cell treatment has gained more and more traction over the last decade. New trials are being added every day for a wide range of conditions, including autism, celebral palsy, multiple sclerosis (MS), arthritis, neuropathy, and more.
While this high volume of publications and trials are promising, R&D costs contribute to the overall cost of stem cell therapy.
Costs of a Stem Cell Transplantation
For the patient, a stem cell transplant involves multiple steps, including:
- isolating the adult stem cells
- re-administering the cells
- post-treatment monitoring and follow-up
There are also real costs for the doctors who provide stem cell treatments. They have overhead costs, including:
- office space
- training acquired through hands-on courses
- support personnel
- admin requirements
Furthermore, there is the time and expertise required to perform the procedure and offer post-operative care. In some cases, the physician must pay licensing fees to access stem cell sourcing, processing, or delivery technologies.
Benefits vs. Cost of Stem Cell Therapy
Providers rarely post their prices for stem cell treatments in print or digital media because they want patients to understand the benefits of therapy before making a price decision.
Additionally, the price of stem cell treatments varies by condition, the number of treatments required, and the complexity of the procedure, factors that can make it difficult for medical providers to provide cost estimates without a diagnostic visit for the patient.
However, in many cases, it is not in the patient’s best interest to make treatment decisions based on the cost of stem cell therapy.
The best way to know whether to pursue stem cell therapy is to explore patient outcomes by condition and compare the healing process to other surgical and non-surgical treatment options.
Less Expensive Stem Cell Costs
Stem cell therapy is expensive. Among the cheapest and easiest options is to harvest adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) – those that exist in adult fat layers – and re-deliver them to the patient.
Unlike harvesting from bone marrow or teeth, providers can feasibly remove fat, separate stem cells, then re-inject them into a patient the same day.
This approach is typically less expensive than those that require more invasive procedures for harvesting. Because of its practicality in terms of cost, it has become a common approach to stem cell treatment.
Relatively “easy” harvesting still doesn’t translate to inexpensive cost, although some are certainly more affordable than others.
Stem Cells for Orthopedic Conditions
For orthopedic conditions, the cost of stem cell therapy is typically lower, averaging between $5,000 and $8,000.
Examples of these types of medical conditions include:
- knee osteoarthritis
- rotator cuff tendonitis
- tennis elbow
- cartilage defects
Note that these prices are typically out-of-pocket costs paid by the patient because most insurance companies will not cover them. They are considered experimental and not the standard of care.
Cost of Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
What is PRP? Put simply, it is a concentration of a patient’s platelet-rich plasma protein. With this procedure, whole blood is drawn and then it is centrifuged to remove the red blood cells.
This process separates the platelet-rich plasma (PRP) within the blood from the red blood cells. The resulting concentrate is then injected back into the patient. This approach is commonly used to treat soft tissue injuries.
As mentioned above, the cost of platelet rich therapy (PRP), which can be used separately or in conjunction with stem cell therapy, usually ranges from $500-700. However, it can cost as much as $2,000 at some locations.
For the stem cell treatment I received in 2014, I had PRP injections completed prior to and post stem cell treatment. My stem cell treatment involved the collection of bone marrow stem cells from my hip and their re-injection into my right knee. My two PRP injections were approximately $750 each.
These two PRP injections accounted for $1,500 of my costs, while my stem cell treatment accounted for approximately $5,000. In total, I paid $6,500 for the treatment. It was completed at the the National Spine and Pain Center in Fairfax, VA, in 2014, so prices may have risen since this time.
Bone Marrow Stem Cell Treatment Costs
Although fat is a frequently utilized source for stem cells, it is also possible for physicians to utilize stem cells from bone marrow. Regenexx® provides this service in the U.S. and Cayman Islands.
With the Regenexx stem cell injection procedure, a small bone marrow sample is extracted through a needle, and blood is drawn from a vein in the arm. These samples are processed in a laboratory, and the cells it contains are injected into an area of the body that needs repair.
In June 2018, ACAP Health, a national leader in employer healthcare expense reduction, partnered with Regenexx. This partnership provides a glimmer of hope that some stem cell treatments may be covered by medical insurance providers in the future.
The Cost of Stem Cell Therapy in the U.S.
In the United States, treatment protocols vary depending on the clinic and the treating physician.
- A one-time treatment that utilizes blood drawn from a patient can cost as little as $1,500.
- In contrast, protocols that utilize a bone marrow or adipose (fat) tissue extraction can run as much as $15,000 to $30,000.
This is because bone marrow extraction is an invasive procedure that requires a penetrating bone and adipose tissue extraction requires a medical professional trained in liposuction. Examples of invasive procedures include bone marrow and adipose tissue extraction.
In some cases, hospitalization may be required, which raises costs. The location of a stem cell facility can factor heavily into the cost of the procedure.
Higher Costs for Complex Diseases
For treatments that require a systemic (whole-body) approach, the cost tends to be in the higher range, often averaging $20,000 to $30,000 or more.
Examples of the diseases or conditions requiring this type of stem cell treatment include:
- Crohn’s disease
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- psoriatic or rheumatoid arthritis
These higher costs reflect the complexity of treating these patients and the fact that multiple treatments are often required.
Complications Affecting Costs of Stem Cell Treatment
Not every cost associated with treatment gets billed to the patient at the time of the procedure. Hidden costs such as reactions to the treatment, graft-versus-host disease, or disability derived from the treatment can all result in more money to the patient, to insurance, or to the government.
The Risk of Graft-Versus-Host Disease
For example, in the case of someone with cancer, it frequently isn’t viable to harvest the patient’s own stem cells because they may contain cancerous cells that can reintroduce tumors to the body. Instead, the patient would receive stem cells by transplant.
Treatments that involve cells from another person are called “allogeneic” treatments.
The danger here is that the body may see those cells as “invaders” and attack them via the immune system, a condition known as graft-versus-host disease (GvHD). The body (“host”) and the introduced stem cells (“graft”) then battle rather than coexist.
In addition to making the stem cell treatments less effective or ineffective, GvHD can be deadly. Roughly 30 to 60% of hematopoietic stem cell and bone marrow transplantation patients suffer from it, and of those, 50 percent eventually die.
The hospital costs associated with it are substantial.
Stem Cell Treatment Risks and Benefits
As with any other area of medicine, patient evaluations of stem cell providers and treatments run the gamut from extremely satisfied to desolately unhappy. Those like Doris Tyler who have lost their eyesight exist at the negative end of the spectrum.
However, many others praise stem cell treatments for their power to heal diseases, boost immunity, fight cancer, and more.
Stem Cell Lawsuits
While no hard evidence yet points to stem cell clinics raising their rates as a result of lawsuits, that is a typical response in industries whose products or services the public perceives as a high risk.
An additional danger to stem cell treatment providers, points out Nature, is the reduction of bottom-line profits through former patients winning suits. If clinics have to pay out the money they earned – and then some – to individuals suing for damages, they may soon become faced with an unviable business model.
That is a definite concern for those hoping to leverage these treatments now and in the future.
Stem Cell Treatment Outcomes
As of now, this much is clear. There exists enough interest in America and across the world that stem cell providers are continuing to offer a wide range of treatments. Stem cell treatments may offer the potential to reverse diseases that traditionally had to be chronically managed by drugs.
Like most medical practices, stem cell treatments will require further testing to reveal merits and risks. Until then, the public will likely continue to pursue services when medical needs arise, despite potential risks.
Although the cost of stem cell therapy is pricey, some patients choose to undergo the treatment because it is more economical than enduring the costs associated with chronic diseases.
Safety of Stem Cell Treatments
Because there has been a rapid rise in the number of medical providers who are offering stem cell treatments in recent years, the safety and quality of stem cell procedures can vary dramatically.
The FDA has repeated warned that patients may be vulnerable to stem cell treatments that are illegal and potentially harmful or ineffective. The agency has also sent out dozens of warning letters to providers of stem cell products.
In December 2019, the FDA warned Liveyon Labs Inc. and Liveyon LLC that their stem cell products “lack required FDA approval and represent a potential risk to the public health.”
The agency has also sent at least 20 letters to manufacturers and health care providers noting that they may be offering unapproved stem cell products.
Today, at least 400 medical providers are offering stem cell treatments, most of whom are based in the U.S. and are not in compliance with FDA standards. Thus, anyone considering stem cell therapy from any tissue or source will benefit from understanding the possible consequences of stem cell therapy.
Stem Cell Tourism
Because of tight regulations surrounding stem cell procedures performed in the United States, many stem cell treatment providers provide both on-shore (U.S.-based) and offshore (international) treatment options.
Depending on where a treatment is received, patients may have to pay travel, lodging, dining and other expenditures. Because these treatments are completed overseas, they are not covered by medical insurance.
Below, 6 options for overseas providers of stem cell treatments are described, including:
- GIOSTAR in Mexico
- Stem Cell Institute in Panama
- Regenexx in Cayman Islands
- DVC Stem in Grand Cayman
- Okyanos in Grand Bahamas
- Celltex in Mexico
1. GIOSTAR in Mexico
GIOSTAR is a well-regarded global stem cell treatment group with locations in the United States, Mexico, India and beyond. The company’s U.S. location is headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, and offers regenerative techniques and protocols for a wide range of medical conditions.
For its U.S. patients, GIOSTAR works closely with the FDA to ensure legal compliance and safety. Also, GIOSTAR received approval from the U.S. FDA in May 2020 to proceed with a trial using stem cells to treat COVID-19 patients, under the FDA’s “expanded access for compassionate use” program.
If you are seeking a stem cell treatment within the U.S., you can contact GIOSTAR here.
Because the U.S. FDA limits the types of stem cell treatments that can be completed within the United States, GIOSTAR also operates several clinics in Mexico, a country that is increasingly common for medical tourism.
Before choosing a stem cell treatment provider in Mexico, ensure that the clinic is authorized by COFEPRIS, the Mexican equivalent to the FDA. COFEPRIS stands for “Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios.” Translated to English, this means “Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk.”
GIOSTAR works closely with COFEPRIS to ensure compliance with local laws, as well as patient safely.
2. Stem Cell Institute in Panama
Founded by Dr. Neil Riordan, the Stem Cell Institute in Panama is one of the world’s most trusted stem cell therapy centers. Over the past 12 years, the center has performed more than 10,000 procedures, making it a widely recognized destination for stem cell treatments.
Working in collaboration with universities and physicians worldwide, its stem cell treatment protocols utilize allogeneic human umbilical cord blood stem cells and autologous bone marrow stem cells.
Average Cost of Treatment in Panama
On average, stem cell treatments at the Stem Cell Institute in Panama are estimated to range from $10,000 to $30,000.
To provide a specific example, a reader of BioInformant’s was treated for psoriatic arthritis at the Stem Cell Institute in Panama in early 2018.
The price of his stem cell treatment was $22,000. With travel and lodging included, total expenses were approximately $30,000.
3. Regenexx in Cayman Islands
Founded by my colleague Dr. Chris Centeno, Regenexx is one of the oldest and most trusted providers of stem cell treatments.
Headquartered in Denver, CO, the company specializes in providing innovative, non-surgical treatments for treating orthopedic injuries. The company pioneered a procedure that involves extracting a small bone marrow sample through a needle and a blood draw from a vein in your arm.
These samples are then processed in a laboratory and the resulting cells are injected into the area needing repair, with the goal of delivering large numbers of stem cells to the injured area.
In addition to offers treatments at a wide range of U.S. facilities, Regenexx offers a laboratory-expanded treatment option at its clinical site in the Cayman Islands. Using this approach, a patient can receive a higher cell dose, due to the expansion of their stem cells within a laboratory prior to treatment.
4. DVC Stem in Grand Cayman
Another company offering stem cell treatments in the Cayman Islands is DVC Stem.
For over a decade, its physicians have been using alternative therapies to clinically treat patients with various medical conditions. It is one of the most advanced stem cell clinics in the Caribbean, with IRB-approved protocols, a fully licensed staff, and a facility that is accredited by the medical governing bodies of the Cayman Islands.
DVC Stem sources its cells from its partner lab Vitro Biopharma Inc, a state of the art, US-based, FDA registered, cGMP compliant and ISO 9001 certified laboratory, and only use American Association of Tissue Bank (AATB) certified suppliers of full-term, ethically U.S.-donated human umbilical cords.
Led by Medical Director Louis A. Cona, MD, DVC Stem’s focus is on cord-tissue derived allogeneic stem cell therapy for:
- degenerative conditions,
- wear and tear
- intelligent aging
Notable patients the company has treated include:
- Lou Ferrigno (champion bodybuilder/actor)
- Michael Armand Hammer (businessman/philanthropist)
- David Lyons (Founder, MS Fitness Challenge)
5. Okyanos in Grand Bahamas
Similarly, Okyanos offers treatments to patients at its Florida location and provides more involved stem cell procedures at its offshore site in Grand Bahama.
It was founded in 2011 and is a stem cell therapy provider specializing in treatments for congestive heart failure (CHF) and other chronic conditions.
It is fully licensed under the Bahamas Stem Cell Therapy and Research Act and adheres to U.S. surgical center standards.
6. Celltex in Mexico
Similarly, Celltex is headquartered in Houston, Texas, but offers stem cell treatments at its clinical site in Cancun, Mexico. Celltex specializes in storing a patient’s mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for therapeutic use.
Celltex follows FDA regulations concerning the export of cells to Mexico and is compliant with the standards and procedures of COFEPRIS.
Celltex also has an alliance with a certified hospital in Mexico, which is approved to receive cells and administer them to patients by a licensed physician.
Stem Cell Therapy Procedures
The cost of stem cell therapy is indeed expensive, especially because the procedures are rarely covered by health insurance. However, with the right knowledge and a clear understanding of the treatment process, the risk of undergoing stem cell therapy can be worth it, especially if it removes the requirement for a lifetime of prescription medication.
Although stem cell therapy has associated risks, it has improved thousands of lives and will continue to play in a key role in the future of modern medicine.
Download this infographic for your reference:
What is the average cost of stem cell therapy?
The average cost of stem cell therapy ranges from under $5,000 to over $25,000, depending the type and sources of the stem cells, the patient’s medical condition, and the number of treatments required.
Is stem cell therapy covered by health insurance?
No, other than the use of hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) to treat cancer, most stem cell therapies are not covered by health insurance. They are considered to be experimental.
Is stem cell therapy safe?
The safety of a stem cell therapy can vary dramatically, depending on the cell type, route of administration, and patient condition. The FDA has repeatedly warned that patients may be vulnerable to stem cell treatments that are illegal and potentially harmful.
Where can I get stem cell therapy in the U.S.?
Hundreds of physicians offer stem cell therapies within the U.S., most of which are not in compliance with U.S. FDA guidelines. Regenexx (Denver, CO) and GIOSTAR (Chicago, IL) are providers you can contact.
Where can I get stem cell therapy overseas?
Leading providers of stem cell therapy worldwide include: Stem Cell Institute (Panama), GIOSTAR (Multiple Locations), Regenexx (Cayman Islands), Okyanos (Grand Bahamas), DVC Stem (Grand Cayman) and Okyanos (Grand Bahamas).
Does stem cell therapy really work?
Stem cells have been used since 1956, when the first successful bone marrow transplantation was completed. Many clinical trials are being conducted to explore the effectiveness of stem cell therapies, with varying results.
How long do stem cell injections last?
How long stem cell injections last can vary, but some patients may receive relief for five years or longer. Cade Hildreth, BioInformant’s Founder, had stem cell injections in 2014 that are still providing relief.
What can stem cell therapy treat?
Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) has been used in the treatment of cancer since the 1950’s. Evidence suggests stem cell therapy may be effective for treating several types of orthopedic conditions. Its use in other applications is being studied in clinical trials, but is largely unconfirmed.
Can stem cells help arthritis?
There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that some types of stem cells, such as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), may be effective in the treatment of arthritis.
Can stem cells regrow hair?
In a study published June 2017, Italian researchers documented a 29% increase in hair density after stem cell therapy. Replicel is also developing an autologous cell therapy to treat male pattern baldness.
Is stem cell therapy painful?
Some types of stem cell therapy are painful, while others are not. Collecting stem cells from bone marrow can be a painful procedure, as can some types of stem cell injections. Intravenous (IV) administration of stem cells is usually painless.
Seeking a Stem Cell Treatment?
As the world’s largest publisher of stem cell industry news, BioInformant understandably cannot provide clinical treatments or advice. For this reason, please contact GIOSTAR with your medical questions. GIOSTAR is a global stem cell company that has treated a large number of patients, both in the U.S. and worldwide.
You can reach them at this link to schedule a consultation or ask them your questions.
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