The emergence of a global industry selling products and services marketed as stem cells directly-to-the-consumer (DTC) raises serious ethical concerns over patient safety and exploitation, conflicts of interest, clinical beneficence, distributive justice, and trust in science and medicine. Of particular concern, is the wide range of medical conditions that this industry targets without compelling evidence of safety and efficacy while presenting itself as being consistent with ethical and professional norms of scientific research and medical practice. By displaying symbols or ‘tokens of legitimacy’ in their marketing, businesses can ostensibly confer credibility and authenticity to operations that are inherently commercial and profit-orientated.
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