GoFundMe bans donations for controversial cancer treatments
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The crowdfunding platform GoFundMe is banning fundraising campaigns for a controversial cancer treatment clinic in Germany, according to the Financial Times.

The Hallwang clinic in Dornstetten charges up to thousands of euros for what it claims is a “cutting-edge, next generation medicine.” But medical professionals have criticized the clinic for offering treatments such as “ozone therapy” and vitamin infusions.

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On Wednesday, GoFundMe said it would no longer allow users to seek donations for treatment at Hallwang until it has sought further advice from medical experts, the FT reports.

A 2018 investigation by the Good Thinking Society, a scientific group, found that crowdfunding sites such as GoFundMe and JustGiving hosted more than 500 fundraisers for unproven or disproven alternative cancer treatments. 140 of the patients involved in the fundraisers later died. 

“Crowdfunding platforms can offer vital help to people who need financial support at difficult times in their lives, but those platforms need to do more to prevent funds being channelled to clinics offering unproven and sometimes dangerous therapies,” Michael Marshall, who served as project director for the investigation, said in a statement.

“If a fundraiser is for treatment for a serious or life-threatening condition such as cancer, it ought to be reviewed by the fundraising platform before it is sent live, especially if it contains terminology that raises red flags for quackery.”

GoFundMe’s terms of service do not allow donations for products making health claims that are not approved by local or national regulators. Regulating donations which allow patients to travel overseas for treatments that are unapproved in their own countries is more difficult, according to the FT.

"GoFundMe respects the decisions of patients and their loved ones about what they choose to fundraise for,” GoFundMe said in a statement, according to the publication.

“We also recognize the tension between that openness and the need to make sure people are equipped to make well-informed decisions, and we’re doing more to help with that.”