A chemical called dichloroacetate (DCA) has proved effective in lab tests of killing most kinds of cancer dead. DCA is cheap, easy to produce and has no serious side effects.If lab tests are a real indication of the potential of this drug, it could save millions of lives and make cancer a lot less of a threat than it is now.
However, none of the pharmaceutical companies are moving toward developing the drug for production. Why not? There is no patent on it and therefore no significant profit to be made from it. No dosh, no cure for cancer.
The story was reported in New Scientist issue no. 2587 (Jan 20, ’07) and apparently inspired a number of cancer sufferers to approach their doctors to ask for DCA, only to be told that it simply was not available.
The fact that DCA has no patent is utterly baffling as just about any corporation can patent anything these days. How many times have we read of people in Africa or India being deprived of some herbal cure extracted from roadside weeds that they have been using for centuries because a lawyer in the US has just patented it?
A typo in the New Scientist article renders ‘pharmaceutical companies’ as ‘harmaceutical companies’. Or perhaps it wasn’t a typo.
I wonder how the champions of unfettered capitalism who say that market forces will inevitably cure all ills will rationalise this situation?
The same companies insisted on flogging their anti-AIDS drugs to impoverished African nations at unaffordable prices oblivious to the millions who were dying of the disease.