Cancer Treatment Advance?
Its not that I oppose medical advances–far from it. I am just not a fan of the current drug approval process. The drug industry, the FDA and the healthcare community in general are overly influenced by hype and the chase for the next billion dollar blockbuster drug. If the overblown cancer center advertisements don’t bother you, they should. And why are these “great institutions” spending so many bucks on competitive ads anyway? Are they research centers or commonplace marketing machines? A little of both, I think.
The Novartis drug on the fast track to become the first approved “gene therapy” deserves–at this point–both praise and a great deal of skepticism. Patients who take it are guinea pigs. This isn’t criticism. But it is the truth.
The Novartis drug–not yet even approved–is heralded as responsible for “scores” of remissions and “possibly cures” of otherwise fatal lymphoblastic leukemia. Cancer is a horrid disease. Cancer treatments are almost always painful, disabling and commonly ineffective. This is no reason to put the brakes on research and innovation. It is a reason no one with a financial interest in a new drug should ever over-promote the drug by making claims that exaggerate even slightly what is actually known about the drug.
“Scores”of claimed successes is really just empty hype as are testimonials from a handful of patient’s who improved after using an experimental drug. This anecdotal marketing should be reserved for the latest and greatest supplement that promises a better sex life or your money back and is endorsed by the Adult Film Industry. Serious researchers should never resort to crass marketing. They do, because big, big money is at stake whether or not the drug actually stands the test of time.
The drug will be approved based on a study of 63-yes 63-patients.
I congratulate Novartis for its work on this promising drug. I ask they tone down the hype as they begin to experiment on human lives on a much larger and longer scale.