The science blog Respectful Insolence has an excellent and in-depth piece on why why the “miracle drug” DCA isn’t a cure for cancer and why the conspiracy stories surrounding it are baseless. Once again, the people who scream the loudest have the least informed opinions:
What irritates me about the hysteria some bloggers are whipping up over this is that it is at its heart basically paranoid conspiracy mongering, and the reason this story has any legs at all is because people are inherently distrustful of big pharma. There are some good reasons for this and many reasons that boil down to little more than an inherent distrust of big corporations. Even now, for example, our old “friend” Dean Esmay is likening big pharma’s disinterest in DCA to its disinterest in the use of high dose vitamin C against cancer. Never mind that Dean doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to the alleged efficacy of vitamin C against cancer. Never mind that vitamin C never in even Linus Pauling’s hands showed anywhere near the efficacy against cacncer cells in vitro and in animal models that DCA has. Never mind that even high dose vitamin C has shown in essence no evidence of efficacy against cancer in humans. Given those facts, it’s not surprising that pharmaceutical companies aren’t interested in vitamin C as a treatment for cancer, regardless of its cost or patentability.
What is most pernicious about the conspiracy-mongering stories being spread about DCA is that it builds false hope. People with cancer hear about this drug, and they think there’s an amazing cure out there that’s being withheld from them because of the greed of big pharma. Big pharma may show a lot of greed at various times, but that’s nonetheless a very distorted version of the true situation.
I’ve lost a number of relatives to cancer. The idea that there’s some magic bullet out there is very appealing. It’s also completely untrue. Cancer isn’t one disease, it’s a process by which a number of diseases turn healthy cells into malignant ones. What cures or prevents one form of cancer won’t necessarily work on another. In fact, the substance being touted as the next miracle drug itself has observed carcinogenic effects.
It’s another example of simplistic thinking — big pharmaceutical companies are assumed to be evil because some people don’t understand the way the drug market actually works. There are plenty of legitimate critiques of the pharmaceutical industry to be made — but most people never bother to do the research necessary to build an intelligent argument. It’s another example of how sloppy thinking and bad science join together to spread misinformation, fear, and ignorance rather than reasoned and informed opinion.