From Boston Herald
Cancer survivor rips hospital's refusal to test drug `cure'
by Michael Lasalandra
Monday, April 2, 2001
Billy Best, who ran away from home
seven years ago to avoid continued chemotherapy treatments at the Dana-Farber
Cancer Institute, is healthy today and credits an unapproved drug called
714-X for beating Hodgkin's disease. And he's angry that Dana-Farber shut
down a laboratory test of the drug once hospital officials found out it was
linked to a controversial Canadian biologist.`
`They seem to think the only things in the world that work are the things
they've got there,'' said the 23-year-old Brighton man.A lawsuit filed
against Dana-Farber by the company that distributes the drug contended that
lab studies performed by one of the institute's researchers, Lili Huang, in
1999 showed ``positive chemokine reactivity.
''The suit, which alleged breach
of contract, contended that, as a result of the initial test results, Huang
``was hopeful that a formal collaboration . . . could occur, culminating in a
publication of the results in some reputable journal.
''But the study was abruptly shut down soon after the initial tests were done
after Huang was advised by Dana-Farber to ``cease all communication and
involvement'' with the drug company, the lawsuit says.
In court documents
filed in response to the suit, Huang contended that ``there was no evidence
at that time that the sample had the desired chemokine activity'' and said
additional tests were needed.She said the company had misrepresented itself
to her, telling her that the drug had been used in clinical trials in Canada
and Japan and had led to a more than 50 percent remission of cancers in
The unapproved drug contains mineral salts, camphor and a variety of
trace elements. It is injected directly into the lymphatic system.The suit
was settled out of court last summer, and a confidentiality agreement
prohibits each side from discussing the outcome. The suit sought the return
of the drug samples and the test results.
The drug's inventor, Gaston Naessens of Quebec, is controverial, having been
convicted in Europe of unlawfully practicing medicine in 1965.However, 714-X
is allowed to be used in Canada under a compassionate use program for
patients with no other options.
Best's mother, Susan Best of Pembroke, now
sells Essiac tea, another alternative treatment that her son uses. She says
there are many cases of patients being cured using the two.Billy, who now
sells skateboards and works in the kitchen of a restaurant, ``is doing great
today,'' his mother said. `
`He's six years cancer-free.''cw-2But she can't understand why Dana-Farber or
any other conventional cancer hospital won't jump on the 714-X
bandwagon.``This is a very promising treatment,'' she said. ``Dana-Farber
knows it cured Billy and another patient of theirs.''But Steve Singer,
spokesman for Dana-Farber, said no clinical trials using 714-X had been
condicted on humans and neither were there any tests done on animals.``We're
not aware of any clinical trials that have proven the safety or effectiveness
of 714-X,'' he said. ``We're not aware of any scientifically proven
Singer conceded Dana-Farber is conservative when it comes to
alternative treatments, but said the institute is not against testing such
therapies if they appear promising.He said DFCI has recently opened the
Leonard P. Zakim Center for Complementary Therapies and is now writing grant
applications to get funding to test some alternative medicines.
Singer also said that DFCI investigators have found that a highly touted
herbal supplement, PC-SPES, may be effective against prostate cancers that
don't respond to conventional hormone therapy.In a study in the January issue
of the journal Urology, researchers led by William Oh tested the supplement
in a group of men with advanced prostate cancer.
They reported that in 20 of
23 patients receiving PC-SPES, blood levels of prostate-specific antigen
(PSA) dropped an average of 40 percent. PSA levels are a marker for the
strength of the prostate cancer and the effectiveness of treatment.
Rosenthal, medical director of the Zakim Center, said in an internal DFCI
newsletter that he welcomes the results of the study, but emphasized the need
to subject herbal remedies to rigorous scientific study.
``There are many
anecdotes that herbal combinations work, but that's not enough,'' he said.
``You have to prove the claims.''
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