Medical Crowdfunding for Treatments Unsupported by Evidence or Potentially Unsafe

JAMA

EMBARGOED FOR RELEASE: 11 A.M. (ET), TUESDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2018

Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Ford Vox, M.D., email Kerry Ludlam at kerry.ludlam@shepherd.org. The full study is available on the For The Media website.

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Bottom Line: Medical crowdfunding is using social media to appeal for help in paying for medical care. These campaigns can fill insurance gaps but they can also raise money for scientifically unsupported, ineffective or potentially dangerous treatments. This study examined crowdfunding activity for five such treatments since November 2015 and identified more than 1,000 campaigns that raised nearly $6.8 million. The campaigns collected money for homeopathic or naturopathic cancer treatments, hyperbaric oxygen therapy for brain injury, stem cell therapies for brain and spinal cord injury, and long-term antibiotic therapy for chronic Lyme Disease. Limitations of the study include only five treatments and four crowdfunding platforms were analyzed.

Authors: Ford Vox, M.D., Brain Injury Rehabilitation, Shepherd Center, Atlanta, and coauthors

To Learn More: The full study is available on the For The Media website.

(doi:10.1001/jama.2018.10264)

Editor’s Note:  Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

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