File photo: These olfactory ensheathing cells were transplanted from Fidyka's nose to either side of the 8-millimetre cut that a knife left in his spinal cord.

Manila - Philippine health officials on Tuesday warned Filipinos against foreign doctors offering unauthorised stem cell therapy using animal-based cells.

“Patients should only go to reputable or accredited doctors and health care facilities,” Health Secretary Enrique Ona said. “That is the important thing because this is an emerging technology.”

Ona issued the warning after the Philippine Medical Association said it had received complaints that foreign doctors, some alleged to be Germans, were travelling to Manila to offer the therapy to Filipinos for about $23 000 (about R207 000).

The doctors were reportedly using animal-based stem cells, which are not approved in the Philippines. Only stem cells derived from a patient's own blood, bone marrow or fat are approved for use in the country.

The association said it was working with government investigators to track down the foreign doctors. - Sapa-dpa