Google announced it will no longer run ads for “unproven or experimental medical techniques”. Google says this is due to “rise in bad actors attempting to take advantage of individuals by offering untested, deceptive treatments.”
Google wants to limit the marketing of treatments like stem cell therapy, cellular therapy, and gene therapy, with very little or no research supporting them. Some experts in the medical field support these restrictions.
In the statement from Google, Deepak Srivastava, President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research is quoted as saying, “Google’s new policy banning advertising for speculative medicines is a much-needed and welcome step to curb the marketing of unscrupulous medical products such as unproven stem cell therapies. 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. 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.”
Google’s announcement says this new policy will bar treatments with “no established biomedical or scientific basis” and ones with “insufficient formal clinical testing to justify widespread clinical use.”
Google says they will continue allowing ads that promote research, and clinical trials, providing these ads follow the rules in Google’s health care and medicine advertisement policy. The company says it will keep evaluating research and will continue to revise its policies as needed in the future.
While Google specifically calls out stem cell therapy, the new policy sounds like it will apply to any and all untested treatments, not just the specifically listed fields. The new policy, makes Google the judge and jury of “unproven or experimental medical techniques”. This may prove problematic in some cases.