Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Google announced Friday it will no longer allow advertising for "unproven or experimental medical techniques," such as stem cell, cellular and gene therapies.
Adrienne Biddings, Google's policy adviser, revealed the policy change in a blog post. She said the change came about as the result of a "rise in bad actors attempting to take advantage of individuals by offering untested, deceptive treatments."
The policy bans ads promoting treatments with no basis in established science and those with insufficient formal clinical testing.
"Often times, these treatments can lead to dangerous health outcomes and we feel they have no place on our platforms," Biddings said.
Under existing policy, Google already banned certain health-related advertising for products such as those containing ephedra, human chorionic gonadotropin (used in weight loss) and herbal and dietary supplements with dangerous ingredients.
Deepak Srivastava, president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, called the policy change "much-needed."
"While stem cells have great potential to help us understand and treat a wide range of diseases, most stem cell interventions remain experimental and should only be offered to patients through well-regulated clinical trials," Srivastava said. "The premature marketing and commercialization of unproven stem cell products threatens public health, their confidence in biomedical research, and undermines the development of legitimate new therapies."
A study last month in Stem Cell Reports found that unregulated stem cell clinics and treatments can be dangerous for patients because doctors administering the therapies may have no expertise in the condition.
"The stem cell treatments offered by these clinics have not been through the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] approval process, so their safety and efficacy has not been systematically tested or documented. It's a 'buyer beware' situation," said lead researcher Emma Frow, an assistant professor of biological and health systems engineering at Arizona State University.