Genentech's website discusses its vision with regard to oncology, stating that their scientists are focused on the function of angiogenesis inhibitors and in the study of apoptosis. Genentech is using this approach to develop new treatments and to understand the signaling pathways of cancer cells. Dr. Tucker (New York Times, Drugs and Profits, 5/24/11) is spot on about the link between chemo and profits, and about the money trail from pharma companies to the FDA. There are numerous toxic and ineffective chemo drugs that cost millions of dollars to bring to market through the FDA approval process, and numerous bodies lying in the wake of these drugs. Dr. Tucker is silent on those deaths, but pointedly notes that too many Avastin patients are not here to tell their stories. How many Avastin deaths are there in comparison to the millions of deaths from conventional chemotherapy drugs? According to Dr. Allen Levin, “Most cancer patients in this country die of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy does not eliminate breast, colon, or lung cancers. This fact has been documented, yet doctors still use chemotherapy for these tumors.”
It is no surprise that Dr. Tucker has been an oncologist for 30 years. It is time for the old thinking about cancer to step aside. The chemotherapy approach that was derived from the mustard gas used in the World Wars just does not work. It is time to finally admit that, and to step aside so that non-toxic approaches that already exist for cancer treatment become accessible and available in this country.
Information has been released this weekend in the media outlets on Genentech's new drug for treating melanoma. Vemurafenib targets a gene mutation. Genentech at least is on the right path, focusing on pathways rather than on site-specific cancer, and is understanding that treatment must be a targeted, not a shotgun, approach.