Black Wednesday at the FDA

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Black Wednesday at the FDA

by Dquixote1217 on Fri May 18, 2007 12:00 AM

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From the Wall Street Journal Opinions and as posted on the "oleandersoup" and "cancer_alternative forums":

Black Wednesday at the FDA
By MARK THORNTON
May 14, 2007

May 9, 2007, should be cited in the annals of cancer immunotherapy as
Black Wednesday. Within an eight-hour period that day, the FDA succeeded
in killing not one but two safe, promising therapies designed and
developed to act by stimulating a patient's immune system against
cancer. The FDA's hubris will affect the lives and possibly the life
spans of cancer patients from nearly every demographic, from elderly men
with prostate cancer to young children with the rarest of bone cancers.

The dream of stimulating a person's immune system to fight his cancer is
older than the modern era of cancer chemotherapy. Over a hundred years
ago, Dr. William Coley at Memorial Hospital in New York City
experimented with bacterial agents that appeared to have properties in
stimulating immune responses against sarcoma, a cancer of the muscles
and bones. Advances ebbed during the era of chemotherapy in the mid-20th
century, but over the last 25 years cancer immunotherapy has received
much research focus and periodic support from the biotechnology
industry.
Progress and investment, however, have been unsteady as tumor shrinkages
following treatment never quite translated into "hard," clinically
relevant outcomes such as prolongation of the survival of the patient.
Still, this type of approach remains the Holy Grail of cancer treatment.
One day current treatment approaches such as surgery, radiation and
chemotherapy, which often kill most but not all of a cancer, could be
made obsolete by a potent immune response that eradicates the cancer
cells and provides subsequent protection against return and relapse.

Thus it was remarkable that in the last several months two different
biotech companies, with products utilizing two completely different
cancer immune approaches, came before the FDA's Advisory Committee
Meeting for judgment. The first product, Provenge, made by the Dendreon
company, is a cellular therapy that tackles prostate cancer. The results
of the Provenge clinical trial in men with prostate cancer who had
failed all other therapies appeared before the committee that advises on
cell-based cancer products for the FDA Center for Biologics. This
committee was comprised of immunology and oncology experts. The second
product, Junovan, made by the IDM company, was tested in children with
osteosarcoma, a rare bone cancer that affects just 900 children per
year. The results of the Junovan clinical trial appeared before a
different committee -- one that judges protein cancer agents and was
comprised solely of oncologists with no immunology experts.

Both the Provenge and Junovan clinical trials provided evidence that
patients lived longer compared to control groups. But according to the
FDA, these "survival advantages" that statisticians talk about had
"issues." When the issues were discussed in the Provenge public meeting
the majority of the committee (in a 13-4 vote) thought the issues, while
relevant and important, were superseded by the solid immunology science
behind the product.

However, those voting in the minority, very powerful members of the
oncology community, launched an unprecedented PR campaign accusing those
in the majority of incompetence and naiveté in matters relating to
cancer products. The arrogance of this campaign overlooked the notion
that survival data from immune-based products may be qualitatively
different from, and may need to be judged by different criteria than,
survival data from chemotherapy drugs.

But such intriguing academic discussions never had a chance to take
root. Instead -- just a few weeks after the favorable ruling on Provenge
-- the Junovan product came before the FDA's Advisory Committee for
approval. Incredibly, the improvement in the survival rate of children
with bone cancer who received Junovan was summarily dismissed as
irrelevant by the committee. Why? The statistical data showing the odds
of efficacy were 94% surety instead of the usual goal of 95% surety.
This 1% difference was all the committee needed to justify a 12-2 "No"
vote.

The Junovan meeting was chaired by the very physician who launched the
PR campaign against Provenge. Unlike the meeting on Provenge, however,
all discussion time on Junovan was spent kneeling before the altar of
statistics -- not a single comment was made about the immunology science
supporting the efficacy of Junovan. Remarkably, as the Junovan vote was
taking place, the FDA folded under the pressure and announced that it
would not abide by the favorable vote on Provenge. Instead, the FDA
called for more testing that -- if the product is not killed outright by
its maker Dendreon -- will take at least three years to complete.
In the span of eight hours, the dawn of a new era in cancer
immunotherapy was driven back into the night. It will be years before we
know the full impact of these decisions and how many cancer patients,
young and old, have had their lives cut short as a result. For now,
however, one thing is clear: While our lawmakers obsess over FDA "safety
reforms," no one is holding this government agency accountable for its
complicity in stalling therapies for life- threatening diseases.

Dr. Thornton, a former medical officer in the FDA Office of Oncology
Products, volunteers as president of the Sarcoma Foundation of America.
 ---------------

My comments:

 

Re: "Black Wednesday At The FDA"


Once again, we see the FDA acting to protect those whose real interests it serves. Those new treatments obviously had the potential to step on some well heeled toes! No wonder Dr. Thornton is no longer with the FDA. What an enlightened view:

"Advances ebbed during the era of chemotherapy in the mid-20th century, but over the last 25 years cancer immunotherapy has received much research focus and periodic support from the biotechnology industry.

Progress and investment, however, have been unsteady as tumor shrinkages following treatment never quite translated into "hard," clinically relevant outcomes such as prolongation of the survival of the patient.

Still, this type of approach remains the Holy Grail of cancer treatment. One day current treatment approaches such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy, which often kill most but not all of a cancer, could be made obsolete by a potent immune response that eradicates the cancer cells and provides subsequent protection against return and relapse."

As long as mainstream western medicine continues to cut, poison and burn and treat only the symptoms (tumors and cancer cells) of underlying health problem with the immune system and likely toxic contaminations, there will never be anything close to a cure. All such treatments do is remove some or all of the "signs" of the problem, while weakening major organs and the immune system and paving the way for an even more vigorous return of the cancer or the introduction of another cancer or serious illness.

Those of us who advocate natural alternatives that are safer, more effective and less expensive (and thus unlikely to ever be sanctioned as approved competition to the multi-billion dollar cancer industry) have long preached that the best way to ward off and beat cancer and illness is to build and maintain a strong immune system. Changes in diet and lifestyle, along with removal of toxins and effective supplementation with proven anti-cancer and immune boosting natural supplements have saved countless lives that would have been lost if mainstream drugs and treatments had been the only alternative.

Sadly, the number of lives saved by what nature has amply provided is a tiny fraction of what could be saved if only we had not been brainwashed for generations that only approved drugs and treatments devised by man were real medicine and the things nature provided were quackery and tomfoolery.

Exactly when did Nature become a quack?

Live long, live healthy, live happy!

Tony Isaacs

"Doctors are men who prescribe medicines of which they know little, to cure diseases of which they know less, in human beings of whom they know nothing."

--Voltaire [Francois-Marie Arouet Voltaire]

"The FDA 'protects' the big drug companies and are subsequently rewarded, and using the government's police powers they attack those who threaten the big drug companies. People think that the FDA is protecting them.

It isn't.

What the FDA is doing and what the public thinks it is doing are as different as night and day."

Dr. Herbert Ley
Former U.S. FDA Commissioner

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