December 05, 2015
Cancer Risk and US FDA As Obstacle For Cancer Cures

A review of The Death Of Cancer by long time cancer researcher Vincent T. DeVita includes an excerpt where he expresses his frustration with the obstructing role that the US Food and Drug Administration plays in the development of cancer treatments.

Id like to be able to say that as cancer drugs have become increasingly more complex and sophisticated, the F.D.A. has as well. But it has not. In fact, he writes, the rate-limiting step in eradicating cancer today is not the science but the regulatory environment we work in.

Think about it. Want to die of cancer? Or want a cure if you get cancer? You have about a 1 in 2 chance of getting cancer in your lifetime and the FDA is slowing down the development of cures. If it was up to me this one issue would be the biggest issue of the US presidential campaign. It is a matter of life and death.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 December 05 09:30 AM 

Nick G said at December 5, 2015 10:38 AM:

Medical research should be our society's top priority!!!

We have enough stuff. Our cars should be electric,and our smart phones should be faster, but seriously: if you're about to lose a parent, or a spouse, or your own life...what's more important?? Do we really need better games that much?

Basic longevity research should be the first thing. If we cure cancer, then heart disease will get us the next decade. If we cure heart disease and cancer, then it will be a stroke. Or Alzheimer's. Or the flu. But we can and should work on them all. "All of the above".

7 out of 8 funding requests for medical research get turned down currently: we should grow funding by 40% per year, for 6 or 8 years.

mr burns said at December 7, 2015 4:24 PM:

We will get faster games because there is, as yet , no federal agency regulating computer games . The FDA has had a central planning mentality since it's founding by commie symps and it hasnt changed, if they must sacrifice citizens for their safety, and the glory of the agency so be it.

Larry said at December 8, 2015 8:36 AM:

The rest of the world is taking the lead on this as in many other areas, such as drones. FDA doesn't have to risk getting it wrong and the future comes faster. Win win!

Crocodile Chuck said at December 10, 2015 7:13 PM:

The FDA is 'evil, huh?

You go first on the accelerated trials for the putative 'cancer cures':


jp straley said at December 11, 2015 6:05 AM:

I see this as an issue with whether or not you own your body.

If you do own your body, then it should be allowable to increase the amount of risk you are willing to take,provided you are reasonably well-informed. The FDA does OK on drug research...the products out there are safe according to their standards. (Some will argue saying that many are dangerous, but for purposes of this discussion assume the statement is correct.)

As implied in the article, research would likely be cheaper and faster if the rules on development were relaxed in the case of "informed consent." Just as predictably deaths and disability would increase.

On the other hand, if you don't own your body, of if you don't agree to "informed consent" rules, then FDA can legitimately tell you what drugs are legally available to you.

Nick G said at December 11, 2015 12:41 PM:


Have you known anyone who spent their life savings trying to save the life of a loved one, only to find out they've been conned out of their money by fake cures??

THAT's the danger.

jp straley said at December 11, 2015 6:02 PM:


I've known people who have been conned. Freedom means freedom of choice, so should I save you from your bad choices or should you suffer the consequences of your own decisions?

On the other hand, you could have a hand-in-glove regulator/regulated community, complete with several economic rent-seekers. Gee, that would be the existing system, right?

Even smart and well-informed people make bad choices. Example: Steve Jobs. He actually had a very good chance of being cured of his cancer and he chose a "holistic" approach. Society can choose the highly regulated approach we have now, or society can go a little faster by relaxing the hand of regulation. With the second alternative I can guarantee there will be tragic stories when an experimental therapy has a gruesome result. There will be positive stories, too. All this will happen faster.

veriti said at December 13, 2015 5:01 PM:

Chuck and jp,

I would vote hands down for a faster progress in drug development even if I end up with less protection when I'm old and I need a cancer drug. Six people lose their lives during a drug trial every few years but hundreds or thousands lose their lives every day due to cancer. To me it's no brainer: the choice is clear, let us be more prone to conning and experimentation if it is speeds up substantially drug development and lowers the cost of the development.

Nick G said at December 22, 2015 8:35 PM:

Freedom means freedom of choice, so should I save you from your bad choices

I'm not talking about mistakes, I'm talking about fraud and theft. Even the most libertarian of governments is supposed to protect it's citizens from fraud and theft.

The rate of fraud & theft, and deaths due to bad drugs, is far, far lower than it would be without the FDA. You can't use the present as a benchmark for what could happen.

On the other hand...I very, very strongly agree that we need faster drug development. I'd be happy to move the balance towards faster development, at the cost of some incremental fraud and side effects. Just exactly where the balance should be, I don't know.

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