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stem cells

The mailings promised “Life Without Pain!” via stem cell injections or IVs administered in a patient’s own home. The allure was obvious: more than 20% of U.S. adults endure chronic pain.

The flyers invited Iowans to free dinners across the state. Afterward, sales people traveled to potential customers’ homes for high-pressure pitches disguised as pre-screenings, according to prosecutors. More than 250 people signed up, paying $3,200 to $20,000 each for a total of $1.5 million. For this, a nurse practitioner came to their homes to administer injections and IVs filled with stem cells derived from umbilical cords.

Yet experts and regulators have alternately labeled such treatments as ripoffs, scams or simply unproven. In some cases, studies have documented real harm.

Last fall, Iowa’s attorney general sued two proprietors responsible for the mailings in her state, naming a Minnesota man who hosts a Christian entrepreneurship podcast and his Florida business partner for allegedly deceiving consumers, many of them elderly.

In bringing the lawsuit, Iowa joined attorneys general in New York, North Dakota, Georgia, Nebraska, Arkansas and Washington state who have...