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tv   60 Minutes on CNBC  CNBC  December 8, 2013 11:00pm-12:01am EST

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[ticking] >> every day, dr. mintz and many of his patients inject themselves with steroids and hormones that would get ball players banned. any adverse effects from any of this? >> none. >> what have been the benefits that you've felt? >> well, energy. better body composition. my brain function, we tested, is actually quicker than it was five to six years ago. >> and there are plenty of patients eager to follow the trail he's blazing. the ones we talked to in las vegas consider this a lifestyle choice, and they're prepared to roll the dice. >> you could get killed in the interstate tomorrow. >> every physician that's out there using it is seeing results they've never seen before.
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>> terren peizer is selling hope to the desperate. he claims to have a revolutionary drug therapy for addiction that breaks the grip of methamphetamine, cocaine, and alcohol. dave smart was a meth addict for 20 years. he took peizer's treatment one time. the cravings? >> the cravings were gone. >> what do you mean? you mean overnight? >> i mean overnight. that's the way it worked for me. [jingly thai music] >> thailand: an exotic vacation land known for its buddhas, its beaches, its brothels. but how about going for hip surgery or a multiple bypass or a face-lift? a growing number of americans are doing just that, combining holidays with healthcare. this uninsured louisiana man had a complicated quintuple bypass. this woman from bend, oregon, a bit of an eye lift. >> it was just beyond my expectations. >> welcome to 60 minutes on cnbc.
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i'm steve kroft. in this episode, we'll look at people who market medical procedures as business ventures, everything from anti-aging treatments to a protocol that claims to end addiction. we'll begin with doctors and pharmacists who are catering to the 78 million aging baby boomers who want to slow that aging process down or to even turn back the clock. the treatments usually include doses of the same performance-enhancing drugs that are now banned by most professional sports-- things like testosterone, dhea, and human growth hormone. as we first reported in 2006, all of this his highly controversial and possibly even illegal, but that's not stopping thousands of doctors from taking up the practice or patients from seeking them out. this is the temple of anti-aging medicine, the cenegenics medical institute of las vegas, nevada. >> let's take a look at it. >> it was founded in 1998 by its chief prophet,
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dr. alan mintz, who claims to have 12,000 patients around the world, offering hope to anyone who is feeling tired, getting flabby, and losing interest in sex. >> people are looking to feel better. they're tired of the answers, "go home; we can't do anything for you; you're really okay." they're tired of hearing, "i'm getting old; there's nothing you can do about it; just live with it." >> people have been chasing the fountain of youth for a long time. >> not chasing the fountain of youth. this is not about the fountain of youth. this is not about staying forever young. it's about staying in charge of my life and being productive. >> dr. mintz is 68 years old, a longtime body builder and fitness freak who prescribes a regimen of regular exercise, good nutrition, along with vitamins and supplements to manage the effects of aging. here comes the controversial part. every day, dr. mintz and many of his patients inject themselves with steroids and hormones that would get ball players
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banned and are considered by many to be downright dangerous. how many years have you been on human growth hormone? >> i would say probably 10 or 11. >> any adverse effects from any of this? >> none. because i'm taking very small doses. >> what have been the benefits that you've felt? >> well, energy. more energy. better body composition. my brain is working. my brain function, we tested, is actually quicker than it was five to six years ago. >> dr. mintz say substances like testosterone and human growth hormone are produced and stored by the human body. but as we get older, these natural levels taper off, creating what mintz claims are hormone deficiencies that may be responsible for some of the symptoms attributed to old age. >> we start to lose hormonal-- a lot of different hormones starting at 30, 2% to 3% a year. and by the time you're 40, you begin to recognize some changes.
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and we take it as, we're just getting older. >> you're trying to replenish. >> we're trying to replenish, right, but always within the limit of what's considered normal. >> dr. mintz says that testosterone and human growth hormone help build muscle mass, reduce body fat, and strengthen bones against osteoporosis. and his patients say they can feel the difference. >> the real benefit of it more than anything else is the energy level. i mean, there's a difference between being 25 and 45, and i feel like i'm 25 again. >> we talked to a group of six of them that ranged in age from 74 to 34-- a businessman, a cocktail waitress, a retired school teacher, a car dealership manager, a real estate broker, and a human resources consultant. >> we'll take out some air. >> they're all injecting themselves with human growth hormone, and some are also taking testosterone, dhea, and estrogen. you feel younger? >> well, i'm 74 and i worked out two hours last night and i've recovered.
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and i can stay up till midnight. and i have the energy and vitality. >> big time libido. yeah, like when you're a kid again. >> you know, for women-- >> improves your sex drive? >> absolutely. >> oh, yeah. >> are all of you exercising more? >> oh, yes, yes. >> and all of you are eating better? >> yeah. >> it's a whole way of life. but the hormones and stuff is like cheating. it makes it so much easier to do and it gives you a-- the results are so much quicker. >> i mean, they're steroids, right? >> well... we're making ourselves better athletes. that's my answer. >> we have trained physicians around the country... >> cenegenics has a network of more than 100 affiliated doctors in the united states and joint ventures in tokyo, seoul, and hong kong. mintz says his roster of patients includes movie stars, las vegas entertainers, ceos, and the president of a foreign country, some of whom pay as much as $1,000 a month for the treatment.
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how much has your business grown? >> well, start with zero nine years ago, and it'll do $20 million this year. >> that's a pretty good practice. >> it's a very good practice. >> and you don't have to worry about medicare or medicaid. >> we don't ever want to talk to medicare and medicaid. >> no insurance to deal with. >> absolutely none. >> it's like the good old days. >> like the good old days. >> when we return, some doctors question the cenegenic system. >> i would not take growth hormone because it's unsafe. i would certainly not recommend to my family or my patients that they take growth hormone. >> on 60 minutes on cnbc. ♪
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>> you're looking at hidden camera footage from a recent convention of the american academy of anti-aging medicine, which doctor mintz has disassociated himself from.
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when it held its first gathering back in 1993, 30 physician were in attendance. today, it boasts 17,000 members in 85 countries and claims the numbers are doubling every two years. for some reason, the academy was not eager to share the success story and declined our request to attend. the academy's reluctance may have had something to do with the presence of exhibitors pedaling human growth hormone, which is a prescription drug with narrowly defined uses that is supposed to be strictly controlled. just six weeks earlier, an article in the journal of the american medical association warned doctors and healthcare professionals that the "distribution or marketing of growth hormone to treat aging or aging-related conditions is illegal," punishable by up to five years in prison. but that didn't stop this pharmacist from marketing his company's own specially made growth hormone product to anti-aging doctors. >> we called a few people,
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paid some money for an attorney to give us an opinion, and everybody said we couldn't do it, that we should do it and could not do it. >> okay. >> so that's why we started doing it. >> i got you. >> the pharmacist told us that what he was doing was perfectly legal and that he never gives out growth hormone without a valid prescription from a doctor. according to the food and drug administration, there are very few approved uses for human growth hormone. the most common is growth hormone deficiency, which is caused by disease or damage to the pituitary gland and is thought to afflict only three people out of every 10,000 adults. if that's true, a lot of them must have been at the anti-aging convention. all of this is particularly alarming to doctor shlomo melmed, who literally wrote the book on human growth hormone and says there are all sorts of good reasons why its use is supposed to be carefully controlled. >> i would not take growth hormone because it's unsafe. and as a physician,
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i would certainly not recommend to my family or my patients that they take growth hormone, unless they have a proven indication for pituitary damage. >> dr. melmed, director of cedars-sinai research institute in los angeles, is one of the world's leading researchers on human growth hormone and president of the international society of endocrinology, which is the study of hormones. >> there's no study published which shows the growth hormone administration will prolong life in a controlled fashion. there is no control study which shows that growth hormone administration in the long term will benefit any of the frailties of old age. >> dr. melmed says the benefits of taking testosterone and human growth hormone are often temporary and largely cosmetic, while the potential side effects, which include joint pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heat failure are very real. but his biggest concern
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is that human growth hormone could stimulate the growth of undetected cancer cells such as prostate cancer in men over 50. >> it may well be that it's beneficial for us to have low growth hormones as we age. >> why? >> it may be protecting us from cancer and heart disease. >> if someone has a latent cancer, is there any way to diagnose that before you begin administering human growth hormone? >> unfortunately not. i would be very reluctant to pour fuel onto the fire of a cancer by adding a very powerful growth factor. >> does this bother you? >> of course it bothers me. it bothers me that people are prepared to spend so much money on a molecule which may be unsafe for them. >> hi. dr. mintz. can i help you? >> dr. mintz at cenegenics is undeterred. he says his staff physicians monitor patients carefully and look out for signs of cancer. he also says he's giving human growth hormone to only 7% of his patients, all of whom have natural levels
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below normal and symptoms that lead him to believe they are growth hormone deficient. >> if your labs show you that you have... >> he told he avoids using the term "anti-aging" these days because he considers it misleading and unscientific. he provided us with stacks of studies supporting the promise of growth hormone and testosterone supplements, but acknowledged there were no long-term blind studies showing that they were safe or effective in age management. they don't exist? >> they don't exist. >> we don't really know scientifically. >> galileo didn't have double blind studies, but observation's wonderful. we've never done a double blind study on the sun, but you know and i know even on a cloud day, it's coming up every morning. >> are you an endocrinologist? >> i am not. i'm a radiologist. >> how many endocrinologists do you have on your staff? >> we have none practicing, but two on our board. >> but if it's all about hormonal balance, you would think that you would have a building full of endocrinologists. >> most endocrinologists deal with thyroid disease and diabetes. if you ask them, that's what they'll talk about. we have a disease-based system.
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they're rewarded for disease. it's a major paradigm. doctors can't get paid for health. >> so are you saying that the endocrinologists, the people who study hormones, don't understand it? >> they're not ready to get there yet. [car beeps] >> dr. mintz considers himself a pioneer in this gray area of law and science, and there are plenty of patients eager to follow the trail he's blazing. the ones we talked to in las vegas, all eager to remain young and vital, consider this a lifestyle choice, and they're prepared to roll the dice. you aren't concerned that five years from now, somebody might do a study and find out that this regimen accelerates the growth of cancer cells or causes diabetes? >> well, that's happened with prescriptive drugs. i mean, has it not? so this is any-- in any field you're doing this. they're taken drugs off the market because of this. >> so you'd rather feel better now while you're living your life than worry about
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the possibly downside 10 or 15 years from now? >> you could get killed on the interstate tomorrow. i mean, my goodness. i mean, it's-- you have to weigh risks and rewards. you do that every day in life. you do it when you get up in the morning. >> are you sure, are you absolutely positive, absent any scientific studies, that the treatments that you're giving now won't prove to be detrimental to someone's health five, 10, 15 years from now when all the evidence is in? >> if you talk about five, 10, 15 years, i'm pretty comfortable. no, i'm not absolutely sure. only a fool's absolutely sure. am i confident? do i sleep well at night? yes. >> in 2007, about a year after we first reported this story, dr. alan mintz died, reportedly from a brain hemorrhage. he was 69. cenegenics however has continued to thrive, partly with the help of an eye-catching print and tv ad. and the market keeps on growing. one book in 2010 estimated
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that anti-aging medicine in the u.s. was an $88 billion industry. next we'll look at a different cocktail of medications that may or may not bring relief to thousands of people, when 60 minutes on cnbc continues. every day we're working to be an even better company -
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skipped the usual medical research and government approvals to rush prometa to the market. why the shortcuts? peizer, who stood to make millions, said there was no way he could sit on prometa when he believed it was the miracle treatment that millions of people were dying for. >> if you had a son, if you had a son or a daughter-- and maybe you do-- if he's strung out on meth and he's gonna kill himself, if you had the opportunity, and i said to you, "will you treat your son with prometa," would you take that option for your son? >> terren peizer is selling hope to the desperate. if what he says is true, he's hit on the first medical treatment for methamphetamine addiction, a therapy that he says works for cocaine and alcohol too. this is prometa being given to an alcoholic. with three visits to a clinic, he gets one drug by infusion and two more in the form of pills. the drugs have been around for years, but none of them
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was developed to treat addiction. dave smart tried prometa. he'd been hooked on meth for 20 years. >> i tried n.a. i tried a.a. i tried inpatient treatment centers. i tried outpatient treatment centers. i've been to jail and prison many times for different crimes due to meth. >> you've got a wife of more than 20 years. you've got children. you've got grandchildren. none of that, none of that was worth quitting for? >> all of that is worth quitting for. but it has such a strong hold on me, did have such a strong hold on me, that i couldn't quit. >> in tacoma, washington, smart took us to see the damage meth can do. you tore this place apart? >> we tore this place apart. >> addicts swarmed this unoccupied house like locusts, stripped it, and sold the scrap >> all the wiring we took out of there and all the aluminum, the wiring out of the house. >> you stole it and you sold it all? >> that's the bottom line, yeah. >> you know, this is the kind of thing i've seen in baghdad. >> really? >> people looting and stealing anything they can get their hands on. >> yeah, that's what we do. that's what we do to pay
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for our dope. >> eight months ago, smart was on his way to buy dope when he stopped at a prometa clinic he'd heard about on tv. after about an hour here, instead of going on to the meth dealer, he went home. the cravings? >> the cravings were gone. >> what do you mean? you mean overnight? >> i mean overnight. that's the way it worked for me. >> dave, you have to understand how that sounds too good to be true. >> i do understand how it sounds too good to be true. >> you never would have believed it. >> no. no, i never would have believed it; you're right. but it happened. >> this tool's different. this tool has a unique and powerful biologic response that is very robust. >> dr. matthew torrington is medical director of the prometa center of los angeles. he's done addiction research at ucla and started prescribing prometa two years ago. torrington says, for an addict, prometa is like brakes on a car. >> you're asking them to go down the arduous road of recovery without the ability to stop, and their brain says go, and it's on, okay?
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and they just don't have the ability to say no. because their brain told them that they were hungry for drugs the way you would be hungry for air with a plastic bag over your head. >> the three drugs used in prometa were approved by the fda years ago, but not for addiction treatment. one was approved to treat overdoses of sedatives, another to treat seizures, and the other to calm anxiety. in the 1990s, a spanish doctor put them together. the theory is they alter brain chemistry to end craving. one patient explained it like this. >> he said, "look, torrington, before the treatment, my thoughts went, 'cocaine, cocaine, cocaine, cocaine, cocaine, cocaine, cocaine.' after the treatment, my thoughts went, 'cocaine; i wonder what happened to that rental car i lost; i wonder what happened to my cell phone; i wonder what happened to my luggage; i bet my mom is mad at me; boy, am i hungry; boy, am i tired; cocaine.'" it wasn't like he couldn't remember cocaine anymore. it's just that cocaine went from being all he could think about to be just another thing on the list. >> the first prometa patients were treated in 2003.
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now 70 doctors offer prometa and about 2,500 addicts have had the therapy. we met some of them at dave smart's apartment. matt wild lost an eye in a meth lab explosion, but he didn't stop using until prometa. >> i just don't got no cravings. i mean, it's--personally for me, it's a wonder drug. i mean, i've been addicted to it for 30-some years. >> his wife melanie couldn't stop either. you went to prison three times. >> yeah. >> you got burned in a meth fire. >> yes. >> and none of that... >> i lost my children. my children were seven, six, and two. i couldn't even stay clean then, as much as i love my children. >> the state took her children. melanie says after she was burned in the fire, she left the hospital burn unit to go straight to her meth dealer. now after prometa, she says she's been clean for five months and matt for two. >> and this here is amazing. it's a miracle. >> you just can't help
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feeling good about what you're doing. >> terren peizer had barely sat down for our interview when he seemed to be overcome at the first mention of patients. >> you get away from the clinical and you get down to the personal, and there's nothing like it. so, you know it's-- a lot of people say, "well, you know, why do you-- why are you doing this?" like, you know-- and i say, "how can i not do it?" >> peizer is better known as a steely-eyed financier, a former bonds salesman who worked for then testified against michael milken, infamous in the junk bonds scandal of the 1980s. when peizer heard about the drug therapy, he started a public company called hythiam. [bell dinging] he raised $150 million from investors. the name prometa is greek, meaning positive change. for patients, it's not small change.
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the therapy can cost $15,000. peizer has enormous ambitions: prometa centers across the nation one day accepted by health insurance and the courts. in tacoma, he convinced pierce county be a model of the future. the county put up $400,000 to offer prometa to addicts in drug court. >> you could talk to 100 physicians out there using it. you could talk to 2,000 patients using it. if your son had it, would you want him to do it? >> you believe most people would. >> would you? >> i'd be happier if i knew that it was approved by the fda. >> 60 minutes on cnbc will continue with questions about how prometa was taken to market. >> so if you don't ask the fda for approval... >> that's right. >> you can say anything you want? >> that's pretty much the damn truth. >> i think people would be shocked by that. >> i--it is shocking.
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>> they're just saying this stuff works without actually subjecting it to the proper kinds of trials. >> dr. john mendelson says the science doesn't match prometa's promotion. he's a professor of medicine at uc san francisco and senior scientist at the addiction pharmacology lab at the california pacific medical center. he tests therapies for the national institute on drug abuse. >> you don't think there's anything special about this combination of drugs? >> so far, the evidence would suggest no. >> mendelson says none
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of the drugs used in prometa appears to affect addiction. >> terren peizer says he wants to make prometa the standard of care. >> that is his goal. he wants to be-- he wants to make it the standard without any evidence. and he's spending money to recruit the treaters and to recruit the insurance payers, but not to prove that the treatment works. >> proving that it works would require what scientists call a double blind placebo controlled study. that's a human trial in which half the patients get a placebo, or sugar pill, and neither the doctors nor the patients know who got the real drugs until the end. peizer went to market without that kind of study and without asking the fda to approve his methods or his marketing. so if you don't ask the fda for approval... >> that's right. >> you can say anything you want? >> that's pretty much the damn truth. >> i think people would be shocked by that. >> i--it is shocking. it is shocking. to be honest with you, i've never seen anyone actually try it. and this is one of those
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loopholes that may exist because no one has had the chutzpa to go out and actually try it up till now. >> here's the loophole: one a drug is cleared by the fda for one purpose, a doctor can prescribe it for anything. peizer claims he doesn't need fda approval because-- and this is what he says-- he's not marketing the drugs. he's selling information. >> where we're providing the information of certain medical treatment that they have conditioned in their discretion will use in the practice of medicine to treat their patient. we are not a pharmaceutical company. >> come on, you're going to these doctors and you're saying, "here are three drugs, here's how you administer them, here's how much you administer, here's how many days you administer them, and this is how this works." and then you're telling me in this interview that you're not prescribing... >> we are not prescribing. >> a drug protocol. >> factually we're not. only doctors can prescribe.
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>> you're playing with words. >> i'm sorry, but i don't think so. we make it very clear this is a physician-- a physician's decision. you've talked to physicians already about our program, right? >> yes. >> what do you they say about it? >> physicians we've talked to have told us that they see results. other medical researchers we've talked to say they've never seen any treatment program developed in this way, and they don't mean that as a compliment. >> we're supposed to watch patients die? we're supposed to--those-- how many lives do you want to save before it's relevant? >> someone might say, "sure, it'll be great to spend five or ten years studying this medication." but we don't have that kind of time. people are dying by the hundreds and thousands in america from meth addiction. >> they raised an incredible amount of money. they raised $140 million. if they'd spent 100 million of that in research, they would have had their answer today. >> the criticism is, the research is weak. there's a simple way to fix that. you do the studies.
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you do the trials. you go to the fda. you have the fda sign off on all of this. why don't you do that? >> well, we do have studies in place--actually, frank-- i mean, we're really excited. we just saw the top line data from a double blind placebo controlled study, which is the gold standard of science. >> after more than four years treating patients, prometa just completed its first double blind study. it's not published yet, but peizer says the results are positive. the study was done by psychiatrist harold urschel. he run a number of drug trials for government and drug companies. but we noticed that while testing prometa, dr. urschel's own addiction clinic was selling prometa among other treatments. this is the gentleman who's supposedly doing the independent research to see if it works. seems like a conflict. >> well, i assure you that there's no conflict. i can't speak to what goes on in his medical building. i have no idea. >> dr. urschel told us
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he didn't have a financial interest in his clinic's prometa sales, and he sees no conflict. but it's not the first time that prometa has hit questions on the fast track to market. remember the model program in tacoma drug court? it turns out that some of the top people running the program for the county, who were so enthusiastic, were also buying peizer stock. >> i'm john neiswender. i'm the chief financial officer of pierce county alliance. and, yes, i'm one of those ones who bought stock. >> pierce county commissioners didn't like the sound of that, and they didn't like the results of the county auditor's report. 40 addicts from drug court had been treated with prometa. after 14 months, 57% were clean. but the auditors said that that was no better than the usual therapies. after spending nearly a quarter of a million dollars on prometa, the commissioners pulled the funding. you know, there are some eminent scientists in this field who know the biology of
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addiction, and they look at the prometa drug protocol and they say, "we can't see how this works." >> i don't care how it works. but i know it does work. that's the bottom line. the alternative is a hopeless life on dope living in my truck. >> terren peizer has commissioned four more studies, betting his company and $150 million that the medicine will catch up with his marketing. depending on who you talk to, you're either a revolutionary or a snake oil salesman. >> let the patients decide. [chuckles] if it shows dramatically better result, shouldn't every state be using it to get patients better, to lower healthcare costs so more people could get treated? isn't that what it's really about? so snake oil? i think not. >> by the end of 2010, there were still no controlled scientific studies validating prometa's claims. and hythiam stock, trading as high as $4 a share in when this story was first broadcast, was down to 10¢
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at the beginning of 2011. next we'll meet people who are willing to travel to the other side of the world to get high quality, low cost medical care, when 60 minutes on cnbc continues. ♪ [ male announcer ] this december, experience the gift of true artistry and some of the best offers of the year at the lexus december to remember sales event.
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>> american's travel to exotic foreign lands for many reasons: adventure, tourism,
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or just a beautiful beach. but how about hip surgery or a multiple bypass? as bob simon first reported in 2005, a growing number of tourists are doing just that, combing holidays with healthcare. that's because a growing number of countries are offering first rate medical care at third world prices. and many of these medical tourists are uninsured and can't afford healthcare at home. others go for procedures that aren't covered by their insurance, like infertility treatment or a face lift, and the hospitals in these faraway places are courting their business, trying to get more people to outsource their own healthcare. [jingly thai music] >> thailand: an exotic vacation land known for its buddhas, its beaches, its brothels, the bustle of bangkok. [car horn honks] but for people needing medical care, it's known increasingly for bumrungrad hospital, a luxurious place which claims to have more foreign patients
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than any other hospital in the world. it's like a united nations of patients here. they're cared for by more than 500 doctors, most with international training. the hospital has state-of-the-art technology, and here's the clincher: the price. treatment here costs about 1/8 what it does in the united states. that's right, 1/8. curt schroeder is the ceo of bumrungrad. this place where we're sitting right now is the number one international hospital in the world? >> it's sort of ground zero. i haven't heard anybody yet who's told us that they take more than 350,000 international patients a year. >> one of them is byron bonnewell, who lives 12,000 miles away in shreveport, louisiana, where he owns and runs a campground for rvs. a year and a half ago, he had a heart attack. and his doctor told him he really needed bypass surgery. they told you were gonna die. >> yeah, they did tell me i was gonna die.
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>> you did not have insurance? >> did not have insurance, no. >> he estimates he would have had to pay over $100,000 out of his own pocket for the operation he needed-- a complicated quintuple bypass. and did you actually decide not to do it? >> yeah, yeah, i did. i guess i'd rather die with a little bit of money in my pocket than live poor. >> he says his health was deteriorating quickly when he read about bumrungrad hospital. >> i was in my doctor's office one day, having some tests done, and there was a copy of business week magazine there. and there was an article in business week magazine about bumrungrad hospital. and i can home and went on the internet and made an appointment, and away i went to thailand. >> he made that appointment after he learned that the bypass would cost him about $12,000. he chose his cardiologist, dr. chad wanishiwad, after reading on the hospital's website that he used to practice at the national institutes of health in maryland. >> that's where he practiced
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for a number of years. >> right. >> every doctor that i saw there has practiced in the united states. >> you never called him? >> no, never talked to him. [laughter] >> but three days after walking into the hospital, he was on the operating table. two weeks later, he was home. how are you feeling? >> wonderful. i wish i had found them sooner 'cause i went through a year, i was in bad shape. i couldn't walk across the room. >> how was the nursing? how was the treatment? >> i found it so strange in thailand because they were all registered nurses. being in the hospital in the united states, we see all kinds of orderlies, all kinds of aides, maybe one r.n. on duty on the whole floor of the hospital. in thailand, i bet i had eight r.n.s just on my section of the floor alone. first-class care. >> that's what the hospital prides itself on, its first-class medical care, which it can offer so cheaply because everything is cheaper here. particularly labor and malpractice insurance. you can get just about any kind of treatment, from chemotherapy
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to plastic surgery. kim atwater from bend, oregon, was on vacation in thailand when she decided to combine sightseeing with a bit of an eye lift. were you at all nervous about having an operation done in thailand? >> yes. yes, i was somewhat hesitant of having any type of an operation in a foreign country. and it turned out to be just beyond my expectations. >> but not beyond her budget-- $1,500--and that included a private room. how would you describe the difference between this place and american hospital? >> it's much nicer than any that i've ever stayed in the united states. >> the rooms look more like hotel rooms than hospital rooms, and that's no accident. the idea was to make the whole hospital look like a hotel, and a five-star hotel at that. take a look at the lobby-- boutiques and restaurants to suit every taste and nationality. >> part of the concept was to create an environment, when people came in, they didn't feel like
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they were in a hospital. >> what's wrong with-- i mean, this is a hospital. what's wrong with looking like a hospital? >> 'cause nobody really wants to go to a hospital. >> would you go back? >> oh, i'm going back this fall, yeah. >> why? >> i'm going back to see my doctor and have a checkup again. > he'll have to take a 22-hour flight. but there's even an upside to that. is it true that i can pay for a checkup with frequent flyer miles? >> well, we do have a very unique relationship with thai airways. so you can buy a ticket, you can use frequent flyer mileage to get your check-up. >> whatever it takes to get your business. >> and this is not the only hospital trying to outsource healthcare, is it? >> oh, my goodness, no. [chuckles] yes, we certainly have not gone unnoticed. there are hospitals throughout asia, throughout india. >> up next, india competes for the market in foreign patients. >> that's the ambition, that india should become the world-- >> destination for healthcare. that's right. >> when 60 minutes on cnbc returns. every day we're working to be an even better company -
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chase sapphire preferred. so you can. [ticking] >> india wants to become the world leader in medical tourism and might just make it.
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[car horn honking] alongside the familiar images of the country-- teeming, dusty streets, poverty-- you can add gleaming new private hospital. this hospital opened only seven weeks before we got there. it was already expanding. the hospital boom in india was fueled by india's growing middle class, who demanded access to quality healthcare. now the country known for exporting doctors is trying hard to import patients. the most important player is the apollo group, the largest hospital group in india, third largest in the world. anjali kapoor bissell is a director of apollo's international patient office. why is it important to get foreign patients here? >> makes sense to establish india as sort of like the world destination for healthcare. >> that's the ambition, that india should become the world-- >> destination for healthcare. that's right. >> but why should foreigners come here? well, it's even cheaper than thailand for most
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procedures, with prices about 10% what they would be in the u.s. anne bell works at the british high commission in new delhi. she just had a baby and says she glad she was here and not in england. >> there's been no pressure to go home after the delivery. we've been welcomed to stay as long as we want. they're looking after the baby. they're looking after me, giving me enough time to get settled and confident enough to go back home. often in the uk, you might be out of the hospital within five hours if you've had a normal delivery. >> and in the uk, she wouldn't have had a private room with a private bath, not to mention massages, yoga too. and the doctors? indian doctors are known worldwide. they speak english, and they're often the very same doctors you may have had in europe or america, where many of them practiced before returning to india. >> do you find that many indian doctors are coming back now because of hospitals such as this one? >> yes. a large number are coming back
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'cause they have something to come back to. >> dr. praveen khilnani, a pediatric intensive care specialist, worked at several american hospitals, including mass general. dr. vikas kohli is a pediatric cardiologist who worked at hospitals in new york and miami. both need sophisticated equipment to care for their patients, something india didn't have before the birth of private hospitals like apollo. they both wanted to come back to india, despite the fact that medical care costs much les here, partly because doctors make much less. how much less do you make here than you made in the states? >> maybe the tenths or twentieths of what we were making in the u.s. >> they wanted to come back, they say, because they felt their expertise was needed here in india much more than in america. >> there are probably 1,500 to 2,000 pediatric cardiologists in u.s. i would be one of them. in india, there were just four of us. i was very passionate about working for indian kids.
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>> and since there are so many indians who require the kind of care only you can offer, why is there such a strong drive to attract foreign patients? >> who doesn't mind extra money flowing in? >> stephanie sedlmayr didn't want to spend the tens of thousands it would have cost her for the hip surgery she needed, and she didn't have insurance. so with her daughter by her side, she flew from vero beach, florida, to the apollo hospital in chennai. she'd never been to india before, but she already knew quite a bit about indian doctors. >> my doctor actually in vero beach, she's an indian doctor. so why not go where they come from? >> when took this decision... >> yeah. >> to come to india for surgery, did any of your friends back in florida say, "are you crazy?" >> all of them. [chuckles] hardly anybody said, "oh, great idea." >> but she didn't come here just to save money. she came for an operation she couldn't get at home.
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it's called hip resurfacing, and its changed people's lives. it hasn't been approved yet by the fda, but in india, dr. vijay bose has performed over 300 of them. he showed us the difference between a hip resurfacing and hip replacement, which is the standard operation performed in the united states. he said his patients usually recover faster because his procedure is far less radical and doesn't involve cutting the thigh bone. >> and that's a model of a pelvis, yeah. and that's the femur, or thigh bone, as we call it, and that's the hip joint. in a hip replacement, unfortunately, this bone has to be chopped off. >> instead, bose fits a metal cap over the end, which fits into a metal socket in the hip. the result, he says, is that patients end up with enough mobility to do virtually anything. so my patients, you know, play football, basketball, whatever you want. not a problem. >> right crutch, then the left leg. >> until the fda approves it, the only way to have this operation in the u.s. is by getting into a clinical trial.
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but be warned: it isn't cheap. >> how much does it cost in the states? >> i believe it costs something from 28,000 to 32,000 u.s. dollars. >> between $28,000 and $32,000? >> that's correct. >> and here what did it cost you? >> $5,800. >> including food, service, nurses, the works. >> private nurse after surgery. and feeling always that they were just totally attentive. if you rang the bell next to your bed... >> mm-hmm. >> oop, somebody was there immediately. >> sound too good to be true? don't forget: it's at least a 20-hour trip, there is malaria in parts of india, patients have complained of intestinal disorders, and if something goes wrong, you could end up suing for malpractice in an indian court. and one could only wish you the best of luck. but stephanie seldmayr feels she's already had more luck than she had any right to expect. by the time we left india, she was into the tourism part
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of her treatment, convalescing at a seaside resort an hour's drive from the hospital. is this standard that when somebody gets surgery at the hospital here, they'll come to a resort like this afterwards? >> yeah. they suggest it. >> this too is not very expensive, is it? >> $140 a day. >> for you and your daughter. >> for myself and my daughter, including an enormous fabulous breakfast that they serve until 10:30. >> i think a lot of people seeing you sitting here in what is usually called post-op... >> [chuckles] >> and hearing your tales of what the op was like, are gonna start thinking about india. >> yeah, and combining surgery and paradise. >> medical tourism isn't just for the uninsured. since this story first aired in 2005, a number of insurance companies in the united states have started pilot programs to send their patients overseas for medical procedures. some self-insured employers even offer incentives to
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patients willing to use the lower cost care. that's this edition of 60 minutes on cnbc. i'm steve kroft. thank you for joining us. [ticking] >> tonight on the car chasers... feel that power? [engine revs] yes, you do. >> [laughs] >> when walt said he wanted this car for his wife, i thought maybe he was just yanking my chain. >> this is not the original engine. >> no. >> wouldn't we get a discount 'cause you don't have the right engine in it? >> walt. you didn't tell me she was a ringer. you got a ferrari outside, bob? i can't believe how it's been treated. i tell you what, bob-- >> [speaks romani] >> i'm a pain in the what? >> no, no, no, no, no... >> my name is jeff allen. i buy, fix, and flip cars. but i don't do it alone. i've got perry... meg...


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