By Dr. Mercola
Gleevec, a drug used to treat leukemia, costs $70,000 a year in the US but only $2,500 in India. This costly gap exists thanks to US patents that prevent competitors from making and selling lower cost versions.
Such patents do not exist to the same extent in India, and, in fact, just this month India’s highest court again rejected an application to patent the cancer drug – a move that likely would have sent prices soaring.
Indian Government Takes Multiple Steps to Prevent Cancer Drug Patents
Along with rejecting patent applications, the Indian government has also granted (or has plans to grant) compulsory licenses for at least five drugs targeting leukemia, breast, kidney and liver cancers.
The licenses allow local drug companies to produce generic versions of the medications despite patents held by their original makers – and without the need for their permission.
Indonesia, China and the Philippines have adopted similar measures that allow them to circumvent patents and give their populations access to lower priced drugs.
Such moves are likely to increase as cancer rates continue to rise and, with it, the demand for what are deemed conventionally as the “best” treatments. It’s a firestorm in the making, as government enforced protected patents enable drug companies to charge exorbitant prices for their drugs – a measure they claim is necessary to fund the research and development needed to produce “life-saving” medications.
But with more countries circumventing patents -- and the plain fact that, as The Atlantic reported, “U.S. patients will not indefinitely pay a 20-fold increase on the price of medicines that Indian consumers pay” – the flawed system is likely to be the source of increasing tensions and, ultimately, is likely to crumble. The Atlantic continued:1
“The fight over cancer drugs in India exposes a fundamental tension in the way we fund pharmaceutical R&D. Patents allow pharmaceutical firms to charge high prices for drugs for a limited period of time to recoup their investment in R&D.
This results in more of the drugs that we need, but makes them less accessible to those who need them. The tension becomes greater in the global context because the income disparities between developed and developing country patients are so vast.”
Patented Cancer Drugs: What are We Really Fighting Over?
Pharmaceutical companies spend nearly TWICE as much on marketing in the US as they do on R&D! This finding was published in the journal PloS Medicine five years ago in 2008.2 So the tune they keep singing – that they need drug patents and outrageous price tags on their drugs to keep making new medications – is growing quite tired.
Drug companies use patents because it allows them to make more money. On average, Americans pay TWICE the price for the identical drugs compared to other countries. But the fight over patentability and drug prices is really only distracting from the much bigger issue at hand, which is the value of the drugs themselves... or rather, the lack thereof.
If you were living in 1900, you very likely would have relied upon the “cutting-edge” treatments of the time, which had reassuring names like Hollister’s Golden Nugget Tablets and Dr. Sawen’s Magic Nerving Pills, and touted promises of curing all that ails you.
Yet, according to a new study that chemically analyzed dozens of patent medicines from the late 1800s and early 1900s, the treatments contained not only beneficial ingredients like calcium and zinc but also toxins like lead, mercury and arsenic.3 The study’s lead researcher told Smithsonian Magazine in an interview:4
“Back in the day, this was a very trial-and-error kind of field... The stuff that we think of as dangerous now, though it was dangerous, was as cutting-edge as they had at the time.”
Today, we look back and scoff at the therapies that our not-so-distant ancestors embraced, because we now know that the ingredients many contained were toxic and could, quite literally, kill you.
100 Years From Now, Will Many Common Prescription Drugs be Seen as Equally Barbaric?
If only we had a window into the future, you would likely see what is already glaring right before your eyes: that many of the “cutting-edge” treatments of the 21st century are no better than the Hollister’s Golden Nuggets of yesteryears. Mercury and other toxic metals like aluminum are still being used in various vaccinations, for instance. We even allow mercury to be implanted directly into our mouths via “silver” fillings!
Other medications may not contain buzz-worthy poisons like mercury or lead, yet they pose equally deadly consequences via other mechanisms. Take Gleevec, the cancer drug that’s at the root of the patent controversy, with patients vying to get their hands on this “life-saving” drug. Unfortunately, though it may help treat leukemia, it also kills heart muscle cells, which may cause fatal congestive heart failure.
So how can we laugh at people 100 years ago for taking deadly medications... when today’s medications – and the entire modern medical system -- are still a leading cause of death? This is perhaps no more apparent than with drugs used to treat cancer...
Many Cancer Patients Die From Chemo
The National Confidential Enquiry into Patient Outcome and Death (NCEPOD) study found that more than four in 10 patients who received chemotherapy toward the end of life experienced potentially fatal effects. And after reviewing data from over 600 cancer patients who died within 30 days of receiving treatment, it was found that chemotherapy hastened or caused death in 27 percent of those cases.
Chemotherapy drugs are, by their very nature, extremely toxic and typically do not work with your body to modulate and normalize its response to allow the cancer to resolve normally. Despite its reputation as the gold-standard in cancer treatment, chemotherapy has an average 5-year survival success rate of just over 2 percent for all cancers, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Oncology.5 Meanwhile, a typical, and potentially deadly, side effect of chemo is the destruction of the rapidly multiplying and dividing cells found in your:
- Bone marrow, which produces blood
- Digestive system
- Reproductive system
- Hair follicles
Chemo actually supports the more chemo resistant and malignant cell subpopulations within tumors (e.g. cancer stem cells), both killing the more benign cells and/or senescent cells within the tumor that keep it slow-growing, or even harmless. As a result, this unleashes a more aggressive, treatment-resistant type of cancer to wreak havoc on the body.
Another one of the biggest drawbacks to chemotherapy is the fact that it destroys healthy cells throughout your body right along with cancer cells, a "side effect" that often leads to accelerated death, not healing. Effectiveness is a shot in the dark, in many cases, not entirely different from the “miracle cures” popular at the turn of the 20th century.
Prevention is a Far Better Route Than Treatment
The bottom line here is that there’s a lot you can do to lower your chances of getting cancer -- you and your family CAN take control of your health. Don’t wait for diagnosis and place your very life on the hopes of affording outrageously expensive chemotherapy drugs... take the reins and be a proactive participant in your own health care, before you end up in need for disease management. I believe you can virtually eliminate your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases, and radically improve your chances of recovering from cancer if you currently have it, by following these relatively simple risk-reduction strategies.
- Reduce or eliminate your processed food, sugar/fructose and grain carbohydrate intake. This applies to whole unprocessed organic grains as well, as they tend to rapidly break down and drive your insulin and leptin levels up, which is the last thing you need to have happening if you are seeking to resolve or prevent cancer.
- Normalize your vitamin D levels by getting appropriate sun exposure, and consider careful supplementation when this is not possible. However, if you’re taking oral vitamin D, you also need to make sure you’re taking vitamin K2 as well, as K2 deficiency is actually what produces the symptoms of vitamin D toxicity, which includes inappropriate soft tissue calcification that can lead to hardening of your arteries. To learn more, please see my previous article: What You Need to Know About Vitamin K2, D and Calcium. If you take oral vitamin D and have cancer, it would be very prudent to monitor your vitamin D blood levels regularly.
- Consider reducing your protein levels to one gram per kilogram of lean body weight. It would be unusual for most adults to need more than 100 grams of protein and most likely close to half that.
- Control your fasting insulin and leptin levels. This is the end result you’ll get when you remove sugars and grains from your diet and start to exercise regularly. Your levels can be easily monitored with the use of simple and relatively inexpensive blood tests.
- Normalize your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats by taking a high-quality krill oil and reducing your intake of most processed vegetable oils.
- Get regular exercise. One of the primary reasons exercise works is that it drives your insulin levels down. Controlling insulin levels is one of the most powerful ways to reduce your cancer risks.
The trick about exercise, though, is understanding how to use it as a precise tool. This ensures you are getting enough to achieve the benefit, not too much to cause injury, and the right variety to balance your entire physical structure and maintain strength and flexibility, and aerobic and anaerobic fitness levels. If you have limited time Peak Fitness exercises are your best bet but ideally you should have a good strength training program as well.
- Get regular, good sleep.
- Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, household chemical cleaners, synthetic air fresheners and air pollution.
- Limit your exposure and provide protection for yourself from radiation produced by cell phones, towers, base stations, and WiFi stations.
- Avoid frying or charbroiling your food. Boil, poach or steam your foods instead.
- Have a tool to permanently reprogram the neurological short-circuiting that can activate cancer genes. It is likely that this factor may be more important than all the other physical ones listed here, so make sure this is addressed. My particular favorite tool for resolving emotional challenges, as you may know, is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).
- Eat at least one-third of your food raw.
- Consider adding cancer-fighting whole foods, herbs, spices and supplements to your diet, such as broccoli, curcumin and resveratrol. To learn more about how these anti-angiogenetic foods, and many others, work to fight cancer, please see my previous article: Dramatically Effective New Natural Way to Starve Cancer and Obesity