Is there a conspiracy to suppress a cure for cancer?
by Dr. Lorne Brandes November 11, 2009
Do you remember the movie “Conspiracy Theory”? It was about a New York taxi driver who witnessed life through paranoid-coloured lenses. Except, as it turned out, a government conspiracy to “get him” really was lurking in the wings.
Yet, do not believe for a moment that “conspiracy theorists” are just a Hollywood invention. They also exist in real life. For example, there are people who believe that drug companies don’t want to find a cure for cancer.
As proof, you need look no further than two comments posted online in response to one of my blogs describing the hard realities of cancer drug development.
“Why would the Pharma companies want a cure for cancer? Their bottom line would suffer ... It’s all about money to them…” wrote someone calling himself “Steve in Toronto”.
And he isn’t alone. Linda from the UK added, “….[Steve's] dead right about the pharmaceutical companies. It's a sad state of affairs, but it's true. Money, money, money.”
While most of you may disagree with Steve and Linda, I suspect that more than a few believe, as they do, that curing cancer is not in the financial interest of big pharma or, for that matter, of anyone in the “cancer establishment”, including oncologists such as me.
And quite frankly, it is all too easy to be suspicious of big pharma. Good behaviour is not the drug industry’s strong suit.
Just recently, Pfizer, was slapped with a $2.3 billion fine by the U.S. Justice Department for the fraudulent “off-label” promotion of some of its major drugs. This is the fourth time since 2002 that Pfizer , or one of its subsidiaries, has been fined over illegal marketing practices. As a result, one might be justified in wondering what other deceptions lurk in the shadows of the corporate boardroom.
Drug companies aside, is there a high-level conspiracy to suppress a cancer cure? One only has to surf the internet to see the depth of conviction, even among some notable “experts”, that there is.
For example, the late Dr. Robert Atkins, of high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet fame, was quoted on one website as saying, “There is not one, but many cures for cancer available. But they are all being suppressed by the ACS (American Cancer Society), the NCI (National Cancer Institute) and the major oncology centres. They have too much interest in the status quo.”
Truth be told, at the same time as he was impugning the ACS and NCI, Dr. Atkins was pushing his own “model of cancer treatment” that included his diet, and a variety of unproven or disproven substances such as laetrile, 714-X and essiac.
On the other hand, after examining all the facts, Michael Higgins, an Australian engineer afflicted with cancer, came to a very different conclusion.
“I know there isn't any cancer conspiracy because I know that the people doing and running the research are human,” he wrote. “Their lives, like mine, have been touched by cancer. They, like me, would do anything to save the lives of the people they love. Furthermore, I assume that any treatments associating themselves with a conspiracy theory have something to hide—the simple fact that [they don’t] work.”
But let’s face it. No matter what anyone says, cancer conspiracy advocates will not be swayed from the belief that, to insure their own survival, the “cancer treatment establishment” in general, and the pharmaceutical industry in particular, is not interested in curing cancer.
While I, myself, have strongly criticized the exorbitantly high prices that pharmaceutical companies command for new, often marginally-effective, anti-cancer drugs, and have described their reluctance, for financial reasons, to develop new uses for old drugs that might benefit cancer patients, I do not believe for one minute that they, let alone anyone else in the “establishment”, are suppressing anything.
How can I be so sure?
As the late Michael Higgins so eloquently observed, few have been untouched by this terrible disease. That’s reason in itself.
So if there exists a conspiracy among all those involved, however imperfectly, in the war against cancer, it is simply this: to find the cure. Period.