The deadly cost of “breakthrough” cancer drugs

I see many cancer patients. And I’ve watched them get their hopes up about new “cure-all” drugs touted by Big Pharma… only to find that there can be serious side effects once the drugs are released to patients.

Needless to say, I approach any “breakthroughs” in this field with a healthy dose of caution. Something you might recall from our recent discussion about gene-targeted immunotherapy.

As I explained then, everyone has pinned their hopes on this new approach to cancer treatment. But while it’s certainly progress, these cutting-edge treatments are a far cry from the “magic bullets” they’ve been made out to be.

And what’s worse, it seems that some of them are turning out to be fatally toxic…

An immune breakthrough backfires

Today I want to talk about immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs). These drugs are designed to override cancer’s ability to escape being detected by your immune cells, and as a result, allows them to attack the disease more effectively.

Unfortunately, as the use of ICIs in the fight against cancer has become increasingly common, some deadly effects have come to light.

In basic terms, ICIs work by disabling immune checkpoint proteins, which are the “off switches” your body uses to stop T cells (your immune response’s “hunters” that seek out and destroy infected cells) from attacking its own tissues. Cancer then loses this function to hide. So it’s not hard to see how ICIs could be an effective treatment.

It’s also not hard to see how this strategy could backfire dangerously. And that’s exactly what’s happened — often soon after treatment, with adverse effects that vary depending on the specific drugs in use.

Researchers screened more than 3,000 case reports of ICI-related adverse events. And they identified more than 600 fatal ones.

In most cases, it was a single toxic effect that caused death. And as you might expect, combination treatment raised the risk of multiple adverse events at once.

Fatal events ran the gamut, and depended on the type of drug used. In the case of individual drug treatment, fatal effects included pneumonitis, hepatitis, colitis, neurological events, and myocarditis.

Of these, colitis was by far the most common event linked with combination therapy.

Know the risks before you make a choice

The authors went out of their way to point out how rapidly reports of these toxic events have spiked. More than 65 percent of all ICI-related deaths happened in 2017 and early 2018 alone.

The average time between the start of treatment to symptom onset was typically 15 days. And the median time from symptom onset to death came in at just about a month.

Bear in mind that most insurance companies probably shelled out over $100,000 per patient during that short time frame. Not that I’m putting a price on anyone’s life… but how many quality days do you think they had?

It doesn’t seem to me that ICIs are a wise investment for anyone involved. Except, maybe, for the drug companies selling them.

To be clear, I’m not telling you not to use these drugs. When you’re up against a wall, most people are willing to take any number of risks if it means better odds of survival. And I can’t say I blame them.

But the fact that a treatment-related death rate of around 4 percent is generally expected in the oncology world? I know I’m not alone in thinking that we can do better — and that we deserve better — after this multi-decade war on cancer.

Fortunately, there is another way, and it doesn’t rely on the Big Pharma gamble. Just a few months ago, I released my Essential Protocol to a Cancer-Free Future. This comprehensive online learning tool offers simple, science-backed strategies for fortifying your cellular defenses — and stopping cancer in its tracks — without dangerous, potentially life-threatening drugs. Click here to learn more, or sign up today.