Exploring chronic disease
24 Feb 2008
Several recent reports have made it abundantly clear that until drug companies understand the infectious pathogenesis of chronic disease, they will continue to churn out dangerous drugs with numerous side effects – drugs that only offer “Band–Aids” for symptoms at the cost of billions of dollars to the consumer.
A few days ago, researchers at Stanford University released the results of a study that tracked the effects of a drug called Sutent on patients with kidney cancer or gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). Sutent, which is widely being tested for the treatment of several other cancers, works by starving tumors — stopping them from growing blood vessels to feed themselves.
Fifteen percent of study subjects taking Sutent developed heart failure, a chronic condition in which the heart loses its ability to pump blood properly. Sutent, made under the generic name sunitinib by Pfizer, has also been shown to damage heart cells.
The study, presented at a meeting of cancer specialists, confirmed the results of previous studies, such as one published in the December issues of the Lancet, which found that half of 75 patients with GIST who took Sutent in a clinical trial developed high blood pressure, 8 percent developed heart failure, and two had heart attacks.
Nevertheless, the American Society of Clinical Oncology still encourages the use of Sutent in patients with GERT and kidney cancer. Why? Because as they stated at a recent meeting, the drug causes “risky” but “reversible” side-effects. Apparently the council feels that while heart failure is serious, it can be treated with a variety of yet more drugs – each of which elicits its own plethora of side effects.
How sad is the Society’s view on Sutent? The medical community’s ability to effectively treat patients with GERT and kidney cancer has sunk to such a low level that they are actually willing to give patients with the diseases a drug that will almost certainly destroy their cardiovascular system in the process of palliating their cancer. And cardiologists, the FDA, and the public actually accept this bleak reality, most without raising an eyebrow, because this is what we have come to expect from a medical world that fails to recognize bacteria at the heart of inflammatory diseases such as cancer.
The Stanford study on Sutent came out just a week after Merck and Co., the makers of Vytorin, a combination of the cholesterol-lowering drug Zetia and the statin called Zocor, failed to meet the primary goal that the company intended – to slow the accumulation of fatty plaques in the arteries more than either drug alone.
Similarly, a recent trial of Torcetrapib, a drug that both raises HDL and lowers LDL cholesterol, was halted midstream because the drug seemed to cause heart attacks and strokes rather than prevent them.
Of course, Merck and Co are continuing to defend and promote Vytorin. The alternative is financial ruin. But the tragic reality is that even if Vytorin, Sutent, Torcetrapib, or any of the other drugs made by major drug companies end up pulling in less of a profit, they will make other palliative drugs in their place: drugs that still fail to target the root cause of chronic disease.
When will mainstream medicine accept the reality that nearly all chronic inflammatory conditions can be treated with a selection of low dose antibiotics and one ARB? Few, if any side effects included.
Certainly not while companies like Merck and Pfizer avert their glance from studies implicating bacteria in chronic disease and continue to churn out drugs that may kill patients but put money in their pockets. It certainly doesn’t help that the medical community and the public continue to maintain such low standards about how a drug should work – accepting as normal the idea that in many cases, even the dangerous side effects of a particular medication must simply be endured.
Amy Proal graduated from Georgetown University in 2005 with a degree in biology. While at Georgetown, she wrote her senior thesis on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and the Marshall Protocol.