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July 01, 2010 (Vol. 30, No. 13)

NCI Needs to Get Over Its Alternative Treatment Bias

Government Agency and Big Pharma Complicit in Stifling Investigation of Nontraditional Approaches

  • NCI Reluctance

    Why isn’t the NCI interested in exploring some of these alternative approaches? In the absence of any reasonable hope for profitability, we can quickly understand the reluctance of big pharma. However, for the NCI, the answers are not so obvious.

    The NCI’s reluctance to investigate nontraditional cancer therapies probably includes some or all of the following: its natural reluctance to expend scant resources on brand new paradigms; the lack of credibility assigned to atypical sources such as private practitioners both here and abroad; the unusual nature of the application mode (i.e., it is not being approached by an interested researcher or pharmaceutical company but simply by an individual who demands that the NCI take the information and run with it); the lack of proof at the molecular level to explain the putative mechanism; and, last but not least, the complete absence of tangible rewards in the way of potential support for new staff positions and/or research materials.

    For everyone’s benefit, NCI must change its stance on alternative approaches. Large-scale clinical trials must be implemented in a variety of cancers in order to test the outcomes of all kinds of cancer treatments. The lack of interest in these novel approaches, by both pharmaceutical companies and the NCI, is likely to negatively impact most patients with cancer in a serious fashion. There are millions of lives at stake and attention must be paid.

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