Human trials begin for controversial ‘cancer pill’

Global Business

Human trials begin for controversial ‘cancer pill’

Clinical trials are underway in Brazil for a controversial ‘cancer pill.” Patients have been hailing it as a miracle cure even though it’s never been tested in scientific trials with human subjects.

In response to public pressure, the government decided to skip further testing in animals and go straight to human trials.

CCTV America’s Paulo Cabral reports.

Human trials begin for controversial ‘cancer pill’

Scientists have shown that a controversial ‘cancer pill' can kill tumor cells in a lab dish and in mice. CCTV America’s Paulo Cabral reports.

Scientists have shown the compound can kill tumor cells in a lab dish and in mice. When word got out, patients started demanding it-even though it hadn’t been tested in humans.

Bernardete Cioffi, President of Instituto Viva Fosfo, said the ‘cancer pills,’ eased her pain, stopped progression of the disease and got her out of a wheelchair. Her experience inspired her to fight to make it legally available for all patients.

However, because it’s an unlicensed drug, patients had to get a court order to take it.

Weeks before being suspended from office, President Dilma Rousseff signed a bill authorizing the distribution of the phosphoethanolamine, but the Brazilian Medical Association opposed the law and managed to overturn it, arguing that more testing was needed to ensure the drug is safe for humans.

Human trials are now underway at Sao Paulo’s Cancer Institute. Doctors coordinating the tests said phosphoethanolamine appears to be safe cased on its prior use by the public.

“We believe it is safe to conduct these trials, because allegedly thousands of people have taking this substance before and no serious adverse events were reported,” said Dr. Milena Perez Mak, a research from Sao Paulo Cancer Institute.

The drug was synthesized at the University of Sao Paulo, which began manufacturing and distributing it in the 1990’s. But it never underwent formal testing.

“We’d love this to become a new drug. We always need new drugs, but we have to wait for the trials. At this moment it’s merely a speculation and this is sometimes a problem, because patients are great in need of new drugs and hope,” said oncologist Rafael Schmerling.

The first trial results are expected to be out in about six months.

Dr. Anupam B. Jena discusses cancer spending around the world

To take a look on how much money and funding is spent on cancer treatment and cures around the world, CCTV America’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke with Anupam B. Jena, MD, PhD, from the Department of Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.