Costs of Stem Cell Therapy Quantified for Knee Osteoarthritis

HealthDay News — Despite low-level evidence, stem cell therapy for knee osteoarthritis is expanding, with centers reporting high clinical efficacy and direct-to-consumer mean cost exceeding $5000 for each therapy, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, held in New Orleans.

Nicolas Santiago Piuzzi, MD, from the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues conducted a prospective cross-sectional study and queried 273 US centers that offered direct-to-consumer stem cell therapies for musculoskeletal conditions. The centers were contacted using a simulated 57-year-old male patient with knee osteoarthritis.

The researchers found that the mean cost of therapy was $5156 (range, $1150 to $12,000) for the 65 centers that provided pricing information for a same-day stem cell unilateral knee injection. Fourteen and 10 of the centers charged less than $3000 and more than $8000 per injection. The mean marketed clinical efficacy was 82.2% (range, 55% to 100%) for the 36 centers that provided information on clinical efficacy. Ten of the 36 clinics claimed efficacy of 90% to 100%; 15 claimed efficacy of 80% to 90%, 10 claimed efficacy of 70 % to 80%, and one claimed clinical efficacy of 55% or greater.

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“The use of stem cell therapies for the treatment of various musculoskeletal conditions, especially knee osteoarthritis, is rapidly expanding, despite there being only low-level evidence to support its use,” the authors write.


Piuzzi NS, Ng MK, Khlopas A, Chughtai M, Mont MA, Muschler GF. The Stem Cell Market for the Treatment of Knee Osteoarthritis: A Patient Perspective. Presented at: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; March 6-10, 2018; New Orleans, LA.