The real cancer
Published Feb 1, 2007 9:34 PM
A promising drug for fighting cancer is found. It has already been proven
relatively safe. Laboratory and animal tests have shown it kills cancer cells
and shrinks tumors.
You would think the drug companies would fall all over themselves to do the
clinical trials necessary for the drug to be prescribed to cancer patients.
This may be the biggest scandal to hit the medical world in years. Yet so far,
all the commercial U.S. media have stayed away from reporting on it.
An article in the Jan. 20 issue of New Scientist, a highly reputable British
magazine, gives the details. Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada
have discovered that the drug dichloroacetate (DCA) killed lung, breast and
brain cancer cells cultured outside the body. “Tumors in rats
deliberately infected with human cancer also shrank drastically when they were
fed DCA-laced water for several weeks,” says the article.
DCA is not a new drug. It has been used for years to treat michondrial disease.
It is cheap and has limited side effects. Scientists decided to try it on
cancer cells because it affects the metabolism of cells, the way they use
energy. This is a different approach than the chemotherapy drugs now in use,
which are toxic and kill off both cancerous and normal cells.
What has scientists especially excited is that DCA has the potential of working
against all types of cancers, including secondary cancers caused when cells
break off and migrate to other parts of the body.
So what’s the hitch?
The article explains, “The next step is to run clinical trials of DCA in
people with cancer. These may have to be funded by charities, universities and
governments: pharmaceutical companies are unlikely to pay because they
can’t make money on unpatented medicines.”
An editorial in the same issue of the magazine lays it out even further.
Entitled “No patent? No thanks,” with the streamer,
“There’s an anti-cancer drug with huge potential, but no
backers,” it explains how the profit motive is slowing down what could be
a fantastic medical breakthrough.
DCA is “cheap, does not appear to affect normal cells, we know its side
effects, and it should work on all cancers,” says the edit. “But
there’s a hitch: it’s an old drug and so cannot be patented. No
pharmaceutical company is likely to fund costly clinical trials without some
exclusive rights to make the drug.”
It points out that many other drugs that could treat diseases affecting poor
people in developing countries are also left on the shelf without the proper
testing, and for the same reason: there’s not enough profit in it.
The editorial even predicts that drug companies may try to manufacture and
patent new drugs similar to DCA and get them on the market soon--but they will
be “hugely expensive.” It concludes, “It would be a scandal
if a cheap alternative with such astonishing potential were not given a chance
simply because it won’t turn a big enough profit.”
There it is in a nutshell. The problem with the whole medical industry is that
it’s not an industry to promote health, it’s an industry to promote
profits. In fact, the more sick people there are, the more money there is to be
made. Pharmaceuticals make up one of the most profitable industries in this
country, raking in hundreds of billions every year.
In the U.S., where the medical industry is the most advanced technologically,
it’s also the most expensive and the least efficient when the cost is
measured against the general health of the people. That’s why 47 million
people here have no health coverage.
There are many reasons to be for a revolutionary socialist reorganization of
society. First and foremost are the need to end poverty, exploitation, war and
the oppression of people just because of their nationality, sex or gender
But issues like cancer and the messed-up environment, which can affect anyone,
should make it clearer than ever that all humanity will benefit mightily when
the parasitic billionaire class that currently stifles true progress is toppled
from its seat of power.
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