Friday, February 12, 2016

Author raps failed War on Cancer, 'fad projects'

Researcher pooh-pooh's Biden's 'cancer moonshot' proposal, says it 'evokes sense of deja vu'

Vice President Joseph Biden's proposed "cancer moonshot" is unlikely to find a cure for the disease, according to at least one expert.
Vinay Prasad

In an op-ed piece written for The Washington Post, Vinay Prasad, a cancer researcher, author and assistant prof at Oregon Health and Science University, writes that the veep's plan "evokes a sense of deja vu" reminiscent of the 1970s and the ushering in of the War on Cancer — which, he says, "was largely unsuccessful at generating better treatments."

Last year was the original target data of that so-called "war."

It clearly passed without a victory.

Biden's proposal, which urged new funding and increased data-sharing, called for scientists to collaborate so they could overcome "cancer politics" and find a cure.

He 'd apparently suggested the moonshot after meeting with almost 200 oncologists, scientists and benefactors in the cancer community and finding an excess of "competition, territorialism and resistance to information-sharing."

He subsequently altered his goal to doubling the rate of progress, meaning that researchers would accomplish in five years what normally would take 10.

Prasad contends the major flaw in the proposal, introduced in January by Biden following the cancer death of his son, Beau, is that "thinking you will substantively improve cancer treatment by altering how it is regulated is like thinking you can run a faster mile by buying a new stopwatch."

The efficacy of cancer drugs, Prasad says, is beyond the Food and Drug Administration's control — and, regardless, "no matter what we do with the FDA, it can't produce better medicines."

The co-author of the 2015 book, "Finding Medical Reversal: Improving Outcomes, Saving Lives," also believes "if we are going to make real progress against cancer, we must acknowledge that…marginal gains — achieved a the price of substantial cost and toxicity — are just not good enough."

He ends his article with this:

"A commitment to funding science generally, and not just fad projects or treatment, in time of both budget surplus and shortfall, would be a true moonshot for the United Staes. Sadly, this is the one moonshot no one in politics seem to have the courage to fight for."

"Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers, touches on how politicians have historically dealt with — and not dealt with — that disease.

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