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Crowdfunding for Unproven Medical Treatments: Should GoFundMe Become a Gatekeeper?

Abstract: Medical crowdfunding has raised many ethical concerns, among them that it may undermine privacy, widen health inequities, and commodify health care. One motivation for medical crowdfunding has received particular attention among ethicists. Recent studies have shown that many individuals are using crowdfunding to finance access to scientifically unsupported medical treatments. Recently, GoFundMe prohibited campaigns for antivaccination groups on the grounds that they “promote misinformation about vaccines” and for treatment at a German clinic offering unproven cancer treatments due to “the need to make sure people are equipped to make well-informed decisions.” GoFundMe has not taken any additional actions to regulate the much larger presence of campaigns seeking to fund unproven medical interventions on the platform. In this article, we make the ethical case for intervention by GoFundMe and other crowdfunding platforms.

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