The Yomiuri ShimbunMajor nonlife insurance companies soon will start selling new products to insure cell-cultivating companies against errors in regenerative medicine — the state-of-the-art technology to restore lost human tissue through the use of induced pluripotent stem cells and other means, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. The launch, expected as early as October, will be the first time that such products have been sold in Japan.
The new products are expected to encourage patients and hospitals to make use of regenerative medicine, as they will help cell-culturing firms pay compensation if problems arise in cultivated cells during treatments and clinical tests.
Regenerative medicine is designed to restore the functions of tissue damaged by illness or injury through the transplantation of cultivated cells.
The sale of such products is timed with the enforcement in November of the law to secure the safety of regenerative medicine, which enables hospitals to commission private companies specializing in cell cultivation to perform the work. Currently, hospitals are the only entities allowed to do so.
The new products will be made available to such firms, which will pay premiums and receive insurance money when they commit errors in their procedures and be held responsible for compensating patients.
Sompo Japan Nipponkoa Insurance Inc. plans as early as next month to sell regenerative medicine insurance products that would pay up to ¥500 million in benefits. Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. and Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance are also planning to introduce similar products.
The products were developed based on extensive discussions conducted by the insurance industry, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and medical experts.
Insurance products for doctors are generally used to address medical errors at hospitals. But there have been no products that can deal with errors or accidents that occur during cell cultivation at specialized firms, which will enter the market in November and beyond. For example, if a foreign substance is mixed with a patient’s cells, the consequences could be serious.
Regenerative medicine entered a new phase closer to practical use after RIKEN performed the world’s first successful treatment of a patient using iPS cells on Friday.
The ministry estimates that the global market for regenerative medicine will increase tenfold from the level in 2012 to ¥1 trillion in 2020 before steeply expanding to ¥38 trillion in 2050.