Big Pharma scams cancer patients with ineffective drugs, false hopes and high prices

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big-pharma-caught-deceiving-cancer-patients(NaturalHealth365)  This story is all about Big Pharma marketing at its best.  You’ve probably seen the television commercials – attractive actors glowing with health, riding horseback or swing tennis rackets while testifying to the ability of various cancer therapies to prolong life.  Although a disclaimer (“these results are not typical”) always follows, the fine print doesn’t do much to dispel the powerful message of these upbeat commercials – that, with the right treatment, remission is within the cancer patient’s grasp.  (Are you ready for the truth?)

As Big Pharma continues to paint an unrealistically rosy view of cancer patients’ outcomes and survival rates, patients are bankrupting themselves to obtain treatments that are ineffective (at best) and feature an array of life-threatening side effects.

Over 25% of cancer patients received ineffective treatments following FDA drug approvals, study suggests

According to a study published in JAMA Oncology, between 2009 and 2022, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval (AA) to 48 drugs across 66 oncology-related indications.  The AA program relies on markers that stand in for actual treatment benefits and needs more proof that the treatment really works.

However, since 2009, approximately 23% of these indications have been withdrawn due to their inability to demonstrate a tangible benefit over standard care.  This raises a vital question: How many patients received treatment for these withdrawn indications after their inefficacy was established?

A cross-sectional study examined patients with advanced or recurrent breast, bladder, hepatocellular, gastric, or small-cell lung cancer treated with at least one line of systemic therapy between May 2016 and March 2022.  De-identified electronic health record data were used for this analysis.  The outcomes were assessed for five specific disease-related indications later withdrawn due to ineffectiveness.

The findings revealed that 26.1% of eligible treatment initiations in these specific indications involved therapies that were later withdrawn.

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Deceptive reality of expensive cancer drugs: Meager benefits and questionable efficacy

While the pharmaceutical industry continuously churns out new cancer drugs with hefty price tags, the disheartening reality remains – many of these drugs offer minimal benefits.

Dr. Vinay Prasad, assistant professor of medicine at the Oregon Health and Science University, asserts that many new – and expensive – cancer drugs offer only marginal benefits, with no evidence that they improve survival or quality of life.

For instance, a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery showed that 72 new cancer therapies were approved between 2002 and 2014.  However, these only provided patients with a scant 2.1 more months of life than older drugs were offering.  And the track record of new cancer drugs shows no sign of improving.

Dr. Prasad’s is not the only research attesting to the ineffectiveness of cancer medications.  In a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researcher Diana Zuckerman examined 18 approved cancer drugs that failed to improve life span.  In addition, only one drug improved patients’ quality of life, while two harmed it – by worsening diarrhea, fatigue, sleep disturbance, distress, and forgetfulness.

Ironically, the study showed that a drug’s price wasn’t linked to efficacy.  Many of the most expensive drugs were among the most ineffective.

Misleading advertisements and hyped study results raise unrealistic hopes

Certain therapies are credited with more powerful effects than they actually deliver.  For instance, immunotherapy – the science of stimulating a patient’s immune system to fight cancer – is heralded as a “breakthrough.” But, in reality, as few as 10 percent of all cancer patients will ultimately benefit from it.

In addition, immunotherapy can trigger fatal immune system attacks on various organs – making it not exactly the “miracle” therapy it is purported to be.

Precision oncology – involving genomic testing and an attempt to match patients with drugs that target their individual mutations – is another heavily advertised therapy that can have disappointing results.  In an article published in 2016 in Nature, Dr. Prasad concluded that precision oncology currently benefits a mere 1.5 percent of cancer patients.

Drug costs strain cancer patients’ finances to the breaking point while Big Pharma profits

Of course, there’s a simple reason for Big Pharma’s relentless cheerleading and hype.  Cancer treatment is big business, costing the United States billions annually.

Unsurprisingly, it turns out that positive study results, when publicized and promoted, attract investors – to fund even more studies.

Meanwhile, many cancer patients struggle to afford their medication.  Over the past decade, the price of many cancer drugs has doubled, tripled, and even quadrupled.  Even for patients with health insurance, it’s not unusual for many copays to reach and surpass $10,000 a year.

The prohibitive cost of cancer drugs causes many to delay treatment or skip it entirely.

According to a study in The Oncologist, close to a quarter of all cancer patients choose not to fill a prescription due to cost and one-fifth of them take less than the prescribed amount to save money.  According to one study, ten percent of elderly patients without supplemental insurance spend a whopping 60 percent of their income on cancer expenses – a truly disgraceful statistic.

It is, therefore, not surprising that cancer patients are 2.7 times more likely to file for bankruptcy than people who’ve never been diagnosed with the disease.

The truth is – although progress has been made in treating early-stage cancers, most patients with advanced cancer will ultimately lose their lives to the disease.  By raising unrealistic hopes, Big Pharma companies and hospitals are pulling off the ultimate “scam” and raking in profits.

In light of these sobering statistics and the limited outcomes of certain Big Pharma cancer treatments, it’s increasingly important to consider a broader spectrum of therapeutic options when facing a cancer diagnosis.  Holistic treatment modalities, encompassing a range of natural and complementary approaches, should not be overlooked.  They can work in tandem with conventional treatments and offer an alternative path as you embark on your cancer journey.

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