Specialists sound alarm about medical crowdfunding sites: Volkskrant

Photo: Depositphotos.com
Photo: Depositphotos.com

Specialist doctors want disclaimers and treatment evaluations to be included on medical crowdfunding websites to warn patients and donors about the risks and realities, the Volkskrant said on Friday.

Medical crowdfunding, which has increased six-fold since 2015, is on the rise among people who are dissatisfied with the treatment on offer or who have no further options for a cure left in the Netherlands, the paper said.

People who suffer from cancer, MS and Lyme disease are among the patients who most often turn to crowdfunding in order travel abroad and buy alternative treatment, which is typically not covered by insurance.

Medical practitioners are worried patients are taken in by clinics making dubious claims, the paper said. Crowdfunding sites often lack reliable medical data and should warn people about risky and unproven therapies, they told the paper.

‘The growth in medical crowdfunding is a gift for quacks who want to win souls’ (..) A jar of peanut butter has to be labelled to tell people about gluten content and sugar. I think patients should get at least the level of protection that supermarket clients have,’ chair of the Dutch association for medical oncology NVMO Haiko Bloemendal, said.


Claims about the effectiveness of treatments touted on crowdfunding platforms are ‘exaggerated’ and ‘short of information on risks’, the paper cites research done by medical journal JAMA.

Specialist Gertjan Kaspers said the popularity of ‘miracle treatments’ may also increase the number of people who reject ‘regular and effective treatment’.

MS expert professor Joep Killestein warned that under-reported failed treatments result in a ‘skewed picture’. He is now lobbying for a disclaimer to be put on the sites along with a medical evaluation of the treatment from Dutch doctors, so ‘people who donate their money have access to honest information and patients are stimulated to be critical’.

Dutch crowdfunding platform GetFunded, which is not allowing campaigns by anti vaxxers, has said it supports disclaimers for certain treatments.

However, Robert-Jan Mastenbroek of crowdfunding platform Dream or Donate said information on medical treatments is not his responsibility. ‘I started this platform to make people’s dreams come true. Crowdfunders choose their own treatment and should be honest about it to the people they want to fund it,’ he told the Volkskrant.

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