Archive for the BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS Category

Stem Cell Innovation At Risk In UK, Studies Find

Posted in ALL ARTICLES, BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS with tags , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2009 by David Granovsky


ScienceDaily (Apr. 6, 2009) — Despite great hopes for stem cell therapy, major structural and cultural changes within the National Health Service (NHS) are needed if it is to succeed in the UK. Currently the chances of getting effective treatments into routine use in the short-term are small and the industry is at serious risk of ‘market failure’.

These are the findings of two major studies into the commercialisation and adoption of stem cell therapy carried out by researchers at The University of Nottingham.

Dr Paul Martin, from the Institute of Science and Society said: “While the government has identified regenerative medicine as a national priority and the US has lifted its ban on stem cell therapy, urgent public policy action is needed if it is to become a reality. Although cell therapy is now established as an important branch of medicine, innovative firms struggle to make money, putting the UK industry in a very vulnerable position in the short term. Unless the situation changes the industry will contract and the progress needed to develop important cell therapies will be adversely affected.”

via Stem Cell Innovation At Risk In UK, Studies Find.


Growth in adult stem cells – Finance

Posted in ALL ARTICLES, BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS with tags , , , , , , , on April 2, 2009 by David Granovsky
Nuvasive (NUVA): Growth in adult stem cells
Thursday, 02 April 2009
 “In all the excitement over the new future for embryonic stem cell, it seems investors have forgotten about adult stem cell products,” notes growth stock specialist Dave Dyer.

In his Dave Dyer’s Newsletter, he explains, “In fact, there are adult stem cell products either already on the market or in late clinical trials. We view this as an excellent opportunity.” Here, he looks at NuVasive (NASDAQ: NUVA).

“Stem cells can grow into any type of organ or tissue and the promise is that damaged organs may be repaired or even replaced with spare parts grown from stem cells. This amazing potential could revolutionize the life sciences.

“NuVasive is a rapidly growing company with unique technology for minimally-invasive back surgery; named Osteocel, it is a stem cell-based product used to help with bone grafts done as a part of spinal surgery.

“This is one of the first regular commercial application of a product based on human stem cells. We note that this product is based on adult stem cells from bone marrow, not embryonic stem cells.

“Osteocel, was sold to NuVasive by Osiris in exchange for a stream of payments based on specific milestones. Nuvasive expects Osteocel to provide $28 million of new revenue for NUVA in 2009, up from $10 million in 2008, so this is a serious product.

“The spinal fusion market — NUVA’s focus — is about $4.2 billion per year. They are a small player, with about 6% of the market, but that is up from 4% last year, for a 50% increase in market share. Not too bad.

“NUVA’s products support a type of minimally-invasive back surgery in which small incisions are made in the side rather than large ones in the back. It provides surgeons with a combination of technology, software, and consumables that bring in about $12,000 per operation.

“Many of their products are based on proprietary patent-protected technology. They have 52 U.S. patents issued and 189 pending.

“Overall, their approach results in less time in the operating room, shorter hospital stays, and faster recovery.  That is probably why they are growing so rapidly. For the last eight quarters, revenue has grown between 50% and 70% per quarter.

“While profits have not grown as rapidly, both 2007 and 2008 were profitable years. In addition, they have no debt.

“A long term chart shows that they had a super 450% gain after their IPO in 2004, but were brought down by the recent bad market. There does not seem to be any fundamental reason behind the drop. It appears that NUVA is now moving in the right direction again.”

Going Abroad to Find Affordable Health Care

Posted in ALL ARTICLES, BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS with tags , , , , , , on March 21, 2009 by David Granovsky

med-tourism medical travel doctor hospital treatmentGoing Abroad to Find Affordable Health Care

Brett Flashnick for The New York Times

Published: March 20, 2009

WHEN Ben Schreiner, a 62-year-old retired Bank of America executive, found out last year he would need surgery for a double hernia, he started evaluating possible doctors and hospitals. But he didn’t look into the medical center in his hometown, Camden, S.C., or the bigger hospitals in nearby Columbia. Instead, his search led him to consider surgery in such far-flung places as Ireland, Thailand and Turkey.

Ultimately he decided on San José, Costa Rica, where just a week or so after the outpatient procedure and initial recovery, he and his wife were sightseeing throughout the country, then relaxing at a lush resort. He was home four weeks later, with no complications.

Mr. Schreiner is what’s known in the health care world as a “medical tourist.” No longer covered under his former employer’s insurance and too young to qualify for Medicare, Mr. Schreiner has a private health insurance policy with a steep $10,000 deductible. Not wanting to spend all of that on the $14,000 his operation would have cost stateside, he paid only $3,900 in hospital and doctor’s bills in Costa Rica.

“I didn’t have to fork over my entire deductible,” Mr. Schreiner said. “What’s more, they bent over backwards there to take care of me – no waiting, a friendly staff, everyone spoke English.”

At least 85,000 Americans choose to travel abroad for medical procedures each year, according to a recent report by the consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Treatment includes dental implants, hip and knee replacements, heart valve replacements and bypass surgery. The cost of surgery performed overseas can be as little as 20 percent of the price of the same procedure in the United States, according to a recent report by the American Medical Association.

Medical tourism is expected to expand quickly in the coming years because of rising health care costs in the United States, increasing availability of international facilities with United States accreditation, and the fact that insurers and employers are beginning to embrace the practice.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina, for example, has started a subsidiary company, Companion Global Healthcare, to offer medical tourism services to individuals and businesses. Hannaford supermarkets in Maine recently added an international option for hip replacements to its health care plan.

At the moment, however, the bulk of medical tourism candidates are uninsured and underinsured people paying their own bills and looking for low-cost alternatives to American care. Medical tourism advocates argue that the quality of care overseas is often equal to or better than that in the United States. Many countries have high success rates, American-trained English-speaking doctors and the newest facilities, often built specifically to attract foreign patients.

But there are no comprehensive data that adequately compare overseas surgical outcomes or other quality measures to those used in the United States, said Dr. Sharon Kleefield of the Harvard Medical School and a specialist in overseas health care quality measures.

“No matter how high your hospital is rated, there are issues with regard to quality and safety when you travel for medical treatment,” she said.

The American Medical Association, also worried about the risks associated with overseas medical travel and the difficulty in getting adequate follow-up care, issued guidelines on medical tourism last June. (They’re available on the Web at

With those cautions in mind, here’s what you need to know if you are considering an international medical option:

Determine whether you are a good candidate. “Traveling for surgery is a big deal,” said Josef Woodman, author of “Patients Beyond Borders: Everybody’s Guide to Affordable World-Class Medical Tourism.” Recovery time is often compressed, and a long flight home can cause complications like a blood clot. You’ll need to provide a thorough health history and have a physical stateside before you go to make sure you can withstand the trip.

Mr. Woodman points out that not every condition should be treated overseas: “Orthopedic and nonemergency heart procedures have some of the highest success rates. But with something like cancer, you need the ongoing relationship with your oncologist and health care team.”

Get a reliable middleman. Dozens of medical tourism facilitators and planners have sprung up in the past decade hoping to capitalize on the trend and simplify the process for consumers. “Unfortunately, plenty of unreliable firms have sprung up, too,” said Jonathan Edelheit, president of the Medical Tourism Association, a nonprofit organization made up of hospitals and facilitators that cater to traveling patients.

Good firms, said Mr. Edelheit, will match your medical needs with the best overseas hospitals and physicians; make your travel, lodging, visa and local transportation arrangements; handle billing; and help arrange follow-up care. For a list of facilitators vetted by the association, go to Once you narrow your search, ask each potential firm for references and former patients you can interview.

Check out quality yourself. Although medical tourism firms will say they work only with the highest quality hospitals and physicians, you’ll still need to check the records. Don’t be swayed by the luxurious private hospital rooms, gourmet food and other amenities splashed on the Web sites. You want to be sure you’re going to a hospital accredited by the Joint Commission, the organization that reviews both American and international medical and dental facilities, using United State standards. (Find it at

Be sure to read carefully, a commission spokeswoman, Elizabeth Zhani, warned. You may find a facility’s name on the accreditation list, but it may be that only an affiliated lab or clinic is accredited, not the entire facility.

“Keep in mind that commission accreditation is the floor, not the ceiling,” said Dr. Kleefield. You’ll want to ask your own questions about the facility’s blood safety, medication safety, infection rates and unexpected morbidity rates for the procedure you’re undergoing, and discuss the data with your American doctor.

Just as you would in the United States, you’ll want to interview the physician handling your case before you arrive. Ask if he or she was trained in the United States and is fluent in English, how often he or she has done the procedure you’re having, and what the long-term outcomes have been. Conducting this interview beforehand will also help you establish a rapport with your doctor before you go under the knife.

Arrange your follow-up care in advance. “The biggest stumbling block with medical travel is getting care when you return,” said David Boucher, chief executive of Companion Global. Doctors often balk at treating complications from overseas surgeries because they are unfamiliar with the procedures or prosthetics used or are worried about liability.

Meet with your general practitioner and any specialist who may have been treating you before you go, said Dr. Ted Epperly, the president of the American Academy of Family Physicians: “They’ll be able to provide your medical records, either electronically or on paper, to your overseas doctors.”

Give your doctors in the United States specific details on where you are going for your procedure and contact information for your overseas doctors. And be sure to ask what medical records and information you need to bring home to complete your care.

Finally, before you leave, do your best to arrange a phone or e-mail conference between your doctors at home and abroad so communication will be established before a problem arises.

“This is the best, most accurate USA article I have seen on the subject of medical tourism.” – Don Margolis, Founder of the Repair Stem Cell Institute


MEDICAL TOURISM; Sometimes, Sightseeing Is a Look at Your X-Rays

Posted in ALL ARTICLES, BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS with tags , , , , , on March 21, 2009 by David Granovsky

medical-tourism-hospital-travel-treatmentsMEDICAL TOURISM; Sometimes, Sightseeing Is a Look at Your X-Rays

Published: May 20, 2007 New York Times


FINISHING my lunch at an open-air restaurant in downtown Bangkok, I felt slightly queasy. But by the time the taxi arrived back at my hotel, sweat was pouring out of my armpits, the folds of my stomach, even my shins, and my leg joints buckled as if a diamond-tipped drill was boring into them. As I got out of the taxi, I collapsed onto the street.

The taxi driver shoved me back into his cab, and we wove our way through the city’s infamous traffic to Bumrungrad International, a hospital near my hotel. I barely made it to the emergency room before I passed out. When I woke and remembered what had happened, part of me wanted to bolt from my E.R. bed. I knew very little about Thai medical facilities, and recalled a clinic I’d seen in neighboring Myanmar, where patients had to bring their own linens, needles and even bandages to the hospital.

Yet my Bumrungrad doctor, trained in America, immediately put me at ease. Surrounded by a gaggle of nurses ready to care for my every complaint at any time of day, the doctor informed me, ”We’re pretty sure you have dengue fever,” referring to a dangerous tropical disease also known as breakbone fever. My temperature had topped 104, but the doctor quickly determined I did not have dengue hemorrhagic fever, the worst strain of the disease. While I rested in a spotless room, he designed a program for my recovery, recommended a week of convalescence, and prescribed an array of medication for the searing joint pain. When I visited Bumrungrad’s cashier, passing the hospital’s high-end restaurants and plush waiting rooms along the way, an assistant handed me the bill. For admittance to the emergency room, a consultation, a room and bags of medications, the total cost came to less than $100.

My unscheduled visit to Bumrungrad taught me an old lesson — and a new one. For decades, Americans have known they could obtain cheaper health care abroad, and have slipped off to Mexico for small surgeries or Canada for prescription drugs. But more and more people now recognize foreign hospitals can deliver not only cheap but also high-quality health care, and are considering medical tourism even for serious health problems. When I returned to the United States, in fact, I found myself longing for Bumrungrad. On a follow-up visit to an American doctor, I waited in a small room after telling him about my dengue fever diagnosis. After a while, when he hadn’t returned, I poked my head into the hall, and discovered him thumbing through a book to find information about dengue fever.

Now, the United States health establishment may be coming to the same realization I did. To be sure, insurers’ worries about quality control and liability risk at foreign hospitals may still keep them from embracing medical tourism. But with spending on health care in America topping $2 trillion, baby boomers aging and the pool of uninsured rising above 43 million, insurers, smaller employers and individual Americans without insurance are looking at overseas care as an alternative for costly treatments, even for complex procedures like heart surgery and procedures excluded from coverage in the United States. Already, more than 150,000 people travel abroad each year for health care.

According to ”Patients Without Borders: Everybody’s Guide to Affordable, World-Class Medical Tourism,” a new book by Josef Woodman, overseas care can trim 60 to 80 percent, or more, off the price of major surgeries. Its comparison, for example, shows that a heart bypass in India costs one-thirteenth the price in America, and many foreign hospitals also offer postoperative care that includes a high degree of attention from hospital staff members.

Several insurers have proven to be medical tourism pioneers. United Group Programs, a Florida insurance company, now offers plans that reimburse types of overseas care, and works with Apollo, a leading hospital in Chennai, India. Health Net, another insurer, now offers subscribers in Southern California some coverage at medical facilities across the border in Mexico.

In South Carolina, BlueCross BlueShield, one of the top brand names, recently signed an agreement with Bumrungrad itself. Other major American health insurers are said to be considering covering some types of offshore medical procedures. The Joint Commission International, an organization that inspects hospitals, now analyzes foreign medical centers to see if they meet high American standards. (The Internet also makes it easier for potential medical travelers to get references who can comment on the skills of doctors overseas.)

Entrepreneurs are starting travel companies to bring Americans to foreign hospitals — trips that sometimes combine treatment with a short vacation or recovery period, like an African safari or a recovery weekend at a Thai beach. Many of these companies now specialize just in one country or region. IndUSHealth, for example, which is based in North Carolina, organizes trips to Indian hospitals; PlanetHospital, based in New York, focuses on trips to Mexico, Central America and Singapore.

This March, I returned to Bumrungrad, which has become internationally famous for medical tourism and now treats more than 400,000 foreign patients each year. I found the same chic Italian and Japanese restaurants and fawning service — but the hospital had gone even higher-end. Middle Eastern families whooshed into the lobby from Bumrungrad-provided limousines and into private rooms. Young Thai Bumrungrad employees welcomed Japanese patients with a bow and a welcome present, like hotel greeters.

Other Thai hospitals desperately try to keep pace, installing hotel-like rooms and upscale restaurants and developing specialties such as sex-change operations. Competitors in Singapore, India, Hungary, Argentina, Turkey, Brazil, Costa Rica, the Philippines, South Africa and Dubai have also entered the medical tourism market, often backed by intense government promotion of medical tourism. (Singapore hopes to attract one million medical travelers by 2012.)

Many of these hospitals compete not only on the quality of care but also on other amenities. The Apollo hospital in Chennai has a gym and yoga studio, and Singapore has launched a series of ”medi-spas,” which mix medical treatments and spa services like massage or facials. Costa Rica advertises ”recovery retreats” that are like ranches created for recuperating medical tourists.

But just as American travelers begin getting comfortable with the safety of foreign hospitals, they face a new question. With developing world hospitals focusing on medical tourists, some may take doctors away from understaffed public clinics in nations like India and Thailand, potentially leading to a public backlash against medical visitors. Already, the press in Thailand and India has warned that medical tourism, which can be more lucrative for physicians, is sucking doctors away from public clinics.

Only days after my luxury dengue treatment at Bumrungrad, I saw this other side. At a larger Thai hospital where I’d walked in after feeling my fever spiking, I sat on a hard bench in the middle of a waiting room littered with cigarette butts and empty plastic bottles. For over an hour, no one called me. When a nurse finally approached me, she warned there wouldn’t be any doctors around for hours, and then turned and walked away.

I got up and took a cab to Bumrungrad.

Obama Rocks Up Stem Cell Stocks (ASTM, CYTX, GERN, NBS, OSIR, STEM, KOOL) : BioHealth Investor – Biotech and Medical Business Blog

Posted in ALL ARTICLES, BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2009 by David Granovsky


Obama Rocks Up Stem Cell Stocks (ASTM, CYTX, GERN, NBS, OSIR, STEM, KOOL) March 9, 2009

Investor alert! Be careful!  Geron went from $8 to $4 after the fiasco of their embryonic stem cell trial approval was realized.  Embryonic treatments and value are 10-20 years out!  Now, if there was an adult stem cell company or storage facility like … that might be worth a look! – dg

There are major gap-ups this morning in stem cell stocks after Friday evening’s news that President Obama is signing an executive order which will lift the Bush ban on funding of embryonic stem cell funding. This is supposed to be signed today, although what is interesting here is that this is not really new news other than the timing and the formality. Many of these stem cell stocks will trade more on a “vote of confidence” rather than over what this means as far as “new news” is concerned.

The following prices are as of 8:19 AM EST.

Aastrom Biosciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: ASTM) +87% at $0.62

Cytori Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: CYTX) +38% at $3.20

Geron Corporation (NASDAQ: GERN) +29% at $4.99

Neostem, Inc. (AMEX: NBS)

Osiris Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: OSIR) NOT TRADED…. in pact with Genzyme, but for adult stem cells.

StemCells Inc. (NASDAQ: STEM) +55% at $2.15

Thermogenesis Corp. (NASDAQ: KOOL) +41% at $0.57

via Obama Rocks Up Stem Cell Stocks (ASTM, CYTX, GERN, NBS, OSIR, STEM, KOOL) : BioHealth Investor – Biotech and Medical Business Blog.

Patent Reform Battle Pits Biotech against High-Tech. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News – Biotechnology from Bench to Business

Posted in ALL ARTICLES, BUSINESS OF STEM CELLS with tags , , , , , , on March 6, 2009 by David Granovsky


Patent Reform Battle Pits Biotech against High-Tech

GEN News Highlights – Mar 6 2009, 11:06 AM EST

Not many issues bring together biotech entrepreneurs and the teamsters, while pitting those life-sciences innovators against their fellow Silicon Valley and Cambridge denizens in the high-tech industry. Patent reform does, though, and it’s making its way through Congress once again with the introduction of the Patent Reform Act of 2009.

Although both are in the business of innovation, the way they build products is very different. Hence, they are at odds over intellectual property (IP) rules. To sum up their differences, powerhouse high-tech companies see themselves as potential infringers, while biotech companies’ worries are those of patent holders.

High tech companies use hundreds, sometimes thousands of components in a single product, and each of these may be subject to a patent. If one of those components infringes on a patent, the high-tech company would prefer that any damages awarded be apportioned, i.e., based on the percentage contribution of the infringing component to the product and not based on the value of the product itself.

The high-tech industry has also been plagued by so-called patent trolls, people or companies that file or acquire patents with no intention to market a product. The key court cases here involved a $612 million judgment for an infringing component of the Blackberry device.

Biotech companies have a different business model and very different IP concerns. They typically develop a drug with one active ingredient, covered by perhaps a composition patent and a method-of-use patent. These companies support strong patents with heavy penalties for infringement.

via News: Patent Reform Battle Pits Biotech against High-Tech. Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News – Biotechnology from Bench to Business.