Tech Billionaires Should Think Twice About Plasma Infusions to Try to Stay Young
Unproven anti-aging 'therapy' now has the FDA involved
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is clamping down on the unproven practice of plasma infusions from young donors that some sellers have claimed can treat a variety of serious diseases — or even serve as a fountain of youth.
“In reality, there are tech moguls who are obsessed with this practice of trying to stay young,” said Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo on Wednesday night’s “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News.
He mentioned an episode of HBO’s “Silicon Valley” in which the tech billionaire character Gavin Belson receives a transfusion of blood from a young man to help him stay youthful.
“They obviously don’t believe that the next place they’d go would be better,” remarked host Laura Ingraham about those who actually purchase these infusions of “young blood” in the hope of staving off death.
“Rather than taking blood from the young — spend time with them. You can capture their spirit. That’s what people should be doing,” Arroyo advised.
“The use of ‘young plasma’ or whole blood transfusions for unproven anti-aging or other purported effects is troubling. It’s based on no credible evidence,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in a tweet on Tuesday.
“We highly discourage this unsafe practice. We’re examining all our tools to protect consumers,” he also said.
The use of “young plasma” or whole blood transfusions for unproven anti-aging or other purported effects is troubling. It’s based on no credible evidence. We highly discourage this unsafe practice. We’re examining all our tools to protect consumers. https://t.co/S4JwzyklT8
— Scott Gottlieb, M.D. (@SGottliebFDA) February 19, 2019
In a statement released on the FDA’s website on Tuesday, the commissioner cautioned consumers against the infusions.
“Simply put, we’re concerned that some patients are being preyed upon by unscrupulous actors touting treatments of plasma from young donors as cures and remedies,” the statement said.
“We strongly urge individuals to consult their treating physicians prior to considering the use of such products for aging indications or for the treatment of conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease or post-traumatic stress disorder given the known and unknown risks associated with their use,” the statement continued.
The FDA emphasized that infusions of plasma from young donors are of no proven clinical benefit.
Plasma is the liquid, straw-colored protein and antibody-containing portion of blood used to help manage bleeding and clotting abnormalities. As with many medical procedures, an infusion of it is not risk-free.
“The more common risks are allergic reactions and transfusion-associated circulatory overload, and less common risks include transfusion-related acute lung injury or … infectious disease transmission,” according to the statement by the FDA.
The FDA also noted another indirect risk: Some consumers with very serious conditions could pursue the infusions, rather than undergo treatments with proven effectiveness.
Ambrosia Health, a company that charged thousands of dollars for infusions of “young” plasma, announced on its website it had “ceased patient treatments” hours after the FDA issued its statement on the sketchy practice, NBC News reported.
An archived version of Ambrosia Health’s website from February 14 showed the company has locations in Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles, California; Tampa, Florida; Omaha, Nebraska; and Houston, Texas.
Ugh! Now how am I supposed to live forever now! pic.twitter.com/ketA8k8JnN
— MneraMiriam (@MenraMiriam) February 20, 2019
I knew they were jealous of youth. Now they are going full vampire? Glad this does not have any real benefits…
— Thomas Harris (@Schism8665) February 20, 2019
Ambrosia’s offerings of intravenous infusions of plasma were from donors between the ages of 16 and 25. The “medical treatment” it offered cost $8,000 for a single liter and $12,000 for two, according to the archived site.
“Age-obsessed billionaires” are among the patrons of companies such as Ambrosia, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Ambrosia may have made its decision based on a portion of the FDA statement indicating that “regulatory and enforcement” actions could be taken against it. “As a general matter, we will consider taking regulatory and enforcement actions against companies that abuse the trust of patients and endanger their health with uncontrolled manufacturing conditions or by promoting so-called ‘treatments’ that haven’t been proven safe or effective for any use,” that portion of FDA’s statement said.
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Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.