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William C. Rader, M.D.
William Rader is a trained psychiatrist who claims to use fetal stem cells to cure many diseases and disorders. His office is in Malibu, California, but his clinic is in the Dominican Republic. He charges $25,000 for the first injection and at least one family has shelled out $8,500 each for several follow-up injections.*
Rader has published no studies supporting his therapy. Indeed, there is no way to identify what he is actually injecting his patients with. He will not allow anyone else to look at his "cells." The only data available for Rader's treatments are anecdotes.
There is no way to verify that the anecdotes he presents are accurate. Even if some of them are accurate in the sense that a patient was judged to be better after treatment, there is no way to know that the treatment provided by Rader was a significant factor in the improvement. Rader is, in short, a faith healer.
His patients, many of whom are children brought to him by their parents, are not tested before or after by any scientific means by Rader. He even admits that he has no idea how his therapy works. Indeed, there is no scientific evidence that it should work. He says he simply injects pluripotent stem cells into patients and the cells do the rest.
Once injected, Dr. Rader says the cells know exactly where to go and what to do, all on their own...."I'm not telling a cell where to go, because I have no clue where it should go. This is nature, God's [sic] work. whatever you want to call it."*
There is no body of scientific evidence that would indicate that simply injecting fetal stem cells intravenously or subcutaneously should have any effect on the body's dealing with such ailments as seizures, brain damage, multiple sclerosis, or the myriad other diseases Rader claims to cure. (Here is a partial list of the diseases Rader claims to treat with his single modality: Alzheimer’s, Anemia, Autism, Brain damage, Cancer, Cerebral Palsy, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Depression, Diabetes, Diverticulitis, Epilepsy, Impotence, Immune Suppression, Leukemia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Sickle Cell Anemia, Spinal Cord Injury, Stroke, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus and Ulcerative Colitis.*) Rader also claims that by "strengthening the immune system, fetal cells offer prevention from acquiring multiple diseases, including cancer, where the fetal cells actually form an anti-cancer barrier which becomes another anti-aging factor."
As Dr. Stephen Barrett says:
Stem cells have the ability to give rise to many specialized cells in an organism. Certain types of stem cells are already used to restore blood-forming and immune system function after high-dose chemotherapy for some types of cancer, and several other restorative uses have been demonstrated. The broadest potential application is the generation of cells and tissues that could be used to repair or replace damaged organs. If scientists can learn how to control stem cell conversion into new, functionally mature cells, doctors might be able to cure many diseases for which therapy is currently inadequate.
In order to substantiate [Rader's] claims [about fetal stem cells ], thousands of people would have to be followed in a controlled trial that lasted many years. Stem cell technology has not existed long enough for any such study to have been done.*
According to Dr. Barrett, Rader seems to have picked up his fetal stem cell and faith healing program from an outfit in the Ukraine called EmCell run by Alexander Smikodub and Alexey Karpenko.
In the past, [Rader] has also done business under the names Mediquest Ltd., Czech Foundation, and Dulcinea Institute, Ltd. A message posted to the Yahoo StemCells group indicates that before he opened his own clinic (in 1997 in the Bahamas), Rader escorted patients to the Ukraine clinic.*
Rader does make at least one true claim about fetal stem cell therapy. He states on his clinic's website: Like all medical treatments and procedures, results may significantly vary and positive results may not be achieved.
Rader received his medical degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1967. His early work was with alcohol and drug addiction and eating disorders. He was married to actress Sally Struthers from 1977-1983. His chain of eating disorder clinics in Southern California, called the Rader Institute, Inc., filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2004 claiming outstanding debts of $1,279,700 and no assets.*
He worked at ABC7 in the Los Angeles television market as an on-air psychiatrist for more than a decade, beginning in the late 1970s. In 1993, he opened a clinic in Mexico City for the treatment of HIV/AIDS patients. He says he has treated over 1,500 patients with fetal stem cells. At $25k a crack, that's nearly $40 million he's taken in. He is the author of the book Blocked in the U.S.A.: The Stem Cell Miracle. In the book, you will read testimonies "of parents who never stopped fighting to save their children’s lives, even when organized medicine refused further treatment and told them that not only did their children have no chance, but that they should not even take a chance on a radical new therapy." What you won't find is evidence of scientific plausibility for his work, evidence in the form of clinical trials, or testimonies from unsatisfied customers.
Rader's claims are attractive to those who distrust conventional medicine and those who are desperate because conventional medicine seems to have nothing to offer them. His claims will resonate especially with those who distrust the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), which requires that a treatment be proved safe and effective before it can be marketed by drug companies. This is expensive and can take many years, despite the belief of many critics that Big Pharma has the FDA in its pocket. It is also a problem when a new drug or therapy seems safe and effective but hasn't been tested in RCTs (randomized clinical trials). Requiring evidence in the form of clinical trials may mean that some people will have to die for others to benefit from a new drug, which seems rather unethical. Also, it is a flaw in evidence-based medicine that it requires a particular statistic in a clinical trial before it considers a treatment proven to be effective and safe. What should be considered is all the scientific evidence that would make it plausible or probable that a particular therapy would be effective and safe. However, Rader has no scientific grounds for claiming plausibility, much less probability, that fetal stem cell therapy (as he is using it) is an effective and safe method for treating the dozens of ailments he treats.
To get a sense of what kind of guy Dr. Rader is, take a look at this video:
See also alternative medicine, control study, NCCAM, Occam's razor, placebo effect, post hoc fallacy, regressive fallacy, selective thinking, self-deception, subjective validation, testimonials, and wishful thinking.
The Shady Side of Embryonic Stem Cell Therapy by Stephen Barrett, M.D. (This article includes information about the currently popular practice of umbilical cord blood banking, i.e., harvesting stem cells from the umbilical cord for potential future use by the child or family members. According to Barrett: "Cord blood banking has some legitimate uses but appears to be a poor investment except for people who (a) have a relative with a disease for which cord blood effectiveness has been demonstrated or (b) are wealthy enough to afford betting more than $3,000 on a long shot." )
Stem cell basics - National Institutes of Health
William C. Rader Stem Cell Scam Being Shut Down in Dominican Republic Dominican Republic’s Public Health Minister warned that the clinics which apply treatments based on stem cells risk losing their license, and that he’ll instruct regional health officials to notify all of them directly that those procedures are banned. Bautista Rojas affirmed that he’ll seek to halt the treatments with stem cells until they are authorized by the Bioethics Health Council (Conabios), whose members yesterday stated their concern for the treatments or therapies, noting that those methods aren’t proven scientifically, and that their effectiveness in humans is unknown.
Man Develops Malignant Brain Tumors & Dies After Receiving Stem Cells From Dr. Rader (RTC comments: The brain tumors may have developed coincidentally, but clearly the stem cell injection in the abdomen didn't help anything.)
William C. Rader "I am one among a multitude of people. who has been victimized by Medra, Inc, an insidious fraudulent stem cell company, owned and operated by William C. Rader, a Malibu psychiatrist, who runs his scam in the Dominican Republic and Tijuana."
from Consumer Health Digest #10-38, September 23, 2010
Stem cell experts launch consumer-protection
The International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) http://www.isscr.org has launched a closer look at STEM CELL treatments with information geared to help consumers make rational decisions about stem cell treatment.
http://www.closerlookatstemcells.org The new site contains a handbook of basic information that includes questions that consumers should ask a prospective clinic and discuss with a trustworthy physician. ISSCR is also querying English-speaking clinics and hopes to list which ones do or do not provide evidence that appropriate oversight and other patient protections are in place for the treatments they offer. The site invites people to submit names of clinics they want reviewed.