Google is banning ads for quack cures after years of profiting from them
Technologyreview.com - Sat 7 Sep 05:47 GMT

After brazenly taking ad money from health-care scammers, Google is finally saying no to ads for unproven stem-cell treatments.New policy: Google, which pulls in more than $110 billion a year in online ad revenue, said in a statement posted on its advertising…

  After brazenly taking ad money from health-care scammers, Google is finally saying no to ads for unproven stem-cell treatments.

  New policy: Google, which pulls in more than $110 billion a year in online ad revenue, said in a statement posted on its advertising pages that under the new policy it will now “prohibit ads selling treatments that have no established biomedical or scientific basis.”

  Big problem: Ads from stem-cell clinics have been a fixture of Google’s search results for years, funneling desperate patients to a growing industry of doctors who collect blood or other cells from patients, then re-inject them.

  Hype problem: Stem cells have been touted as the cure for just about anything, and some medical clinics claim the procedures are also exempt from regulation if they involve a person’s own cells, such as fat, blood concentrates, or bone marrow.

  Experts intervened: According to the International Society for Stem Cell Research, a body representing academic scientists, it helped draw Google’s attention to the role of ads in harming patients.

  “Google’s new policy banning advertising for speculative medicines is a much-needed and welcome step to curb the marketing of unscrupulous medical products,” the president of the society, Deepak Srivastava, said in a statement.

  A Google search today from Cambridge, Massachusetts, still returned numerous advertisements, such as one for the Boston Stem Cell Center, which sells a variety of treatments involving a person’s own cells.