National / Science & Health

Japan to boost scrutiny of online ads boasting cord blood therapies

Kyodo

The health ministry will enhance monitoring of online advertisements for therapies using blood taken from umbilical cords and placentas in the wake of recent arrests over unauthorized practices, sources said.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will instruct the Japan Consumers’ Association to step up monitoring of websites that continue to show misleading information, the sources said Monday.

Cord blood containing blood-forming stem cells is widely used in the treatment of blood disorders such as leukemia, but its effectiveness has not been confirmed in treating other health problems.

Some clinics publicize that they administer materials extracted from placentas for anti-aging effects, improvement of skin conditions and recovery from fatigue.

The therapies would not violate the law on the safety of regenerative medicine unless involving the transplantation of cells, but firms whose advertisements exaggerate effects and safety without scientific evidence will be urged to issue corrections.

While conventional advertisements by medical institutions are strictly regulated, promotional information on websites is not subject to regulations on grounds that people choose to access them.

A revision to a medical law to take effect by next June will penalize medical institutions for running online advertisements containing false or exaggerated information.