Posted by: Tony Carson | 24 August, 2007

With China we have caveat emptor on steroids

There has to be a few charlatans in every population. In a population of 1.3 billion, as in China, there has to be a whole lot of them.

And we’re going to start meeting them in ever increasing numbers as the Chinese figure out the Western deceit of filtering their personal immoralities through sanitizing corporations.

Here’s a case in point from an article in the Globe and Mail entitled Stem-cell therapy: Cure or hoax in China?

As we are increasingly learning, China is relatively regulation-free (see our post China declares “war” to protect image) which in an other-wise regulated world spells opportunity.

Stem-cell therapy is a procedure still under early clinical trials in much of the Western world. But not in China where advertisement that claim to cure the incurable have attract desperate people from all over the world.

So how have these desperate people been doing? Well, according to the article, not so well.

In a research paper published in Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair last year, several doctors in Canada and the United States followed up with patients of Hongyun Huang, who has been offering stem-cell treatments in China for several years. Few of the patients had improved since returning from China.

“If it sounds too good to be true, it’s too good to be true,” says Michael Rudnicki, Canada Research chair in molecular genetics at the University of Ottawa.

But if you’re in deep doo-doo, you’ll try anything, right? I would.

And so would Ms. Wells, of Milton, Ontario, who first heard about Beike in a news story she read about two Ontario women who had suffered spinal-cord injuries in a car accident and then received the stem-cell treatments in China with some success.

As she flipped through the beaming testimonials on the company’s website, it crossed her mind that the whole thing might be a scam. She just wanted a cure to nerve pain so crippling that “no painkiller known to man would help.”

Her spine specialists warned her against it.

Eventually, she decided. “I was like, all right, what do I have to lose? Just a little money.”

Ms. Wells paid $23,000 for the procedure and travelled to Nanshan Hospital in China, where she received six injections teeming with stem cells into her spinal fluid. Beike says the stem cells repair damaged nerves.

After her second injection, the pain that had made jobs and school seem impossible, was nearly gone.

“On a scale of one to 10, it went from like a nine down to a two. I haven’t taken a single painkiller since.”

There are other success stories, too, but few in comparison to the non-improvements.

But there are two morals to this story that seemed to have absolute clarity:

1. some people will do whatever it takes to find relief from horrible situations;

2. there are people out there who will exploit other people’s suffering.

Now, as China joins the West and its deceiving mentality (aka advertising and marketing), the pool of talent bent on chicanery has grown by over a billion — so what was true before is multiply true today; a case of caveat emptor on steroids.

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