Prior to 1963, “Coley’s Toxins”–an infusion of killed bacteria of the types that cause strep throat and urinary tract infections–was used quite successfully in treating a variety of carcinomas (see yesterday’s post, “The Forgotten Miracle Cure for Cancer”). That year, the American Food and Drug Administration labeled Coley’s Toxins as a “new drug”–despite the fact that oncologists had been using it successfully for seventy years! This made it illegal to use Coley’s Toxins except within the context of clinical trials. So, why have there been no clinical trials? Why does the U.S. fail to provide guaranteed health care to all of its citizens? The answer to both of those questions is the same, and they are closely connected. It all comes down to corporate profits. Coley’s Toxins cannot be patented; therefore, there is little profit to be made from it. Parke-Davis, now a subsidiary of the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, was the sole source of Coley’s Toxins after 1923, but this version was so watered down that it required extremely high dosages in order to have any effect at all. Today, doctors in Germany still use Coley’s Toxins. However, because of the laws governing medical practice, cancer specialists must go to a specialized laboratory and make the vaccine themselves.
Interestingly, German doctors–who are employed by the government and work in a nationalized, publicly-funded, single-payer universal health care system that covers all German citizens–are granted a right called “therapy freedom,” allowing them to use any therapy or drug s/he considers appropriate. American doctors, hamstrung by a corporatized, private, for-profit health care system that literally buys its protection from Congress, cannot use “experimental” treatments, even when these have been shown to be safe and effective. Today, Coley Fluid is still manufactured and used in Canada, where it has been effective in the successful treatment of breast, kidney and ovarian cancer. However, because Congress refuses to stand up to the pharmaceutical giants, it continues to be unavailable in the U.S. In the words of Dr. Steven A.H. Cann of the Department of Health Care at the University of British Columbia, Coley’s Toxins could be a “relatively inexpensive, yet effective treatment for cancer.”