MAYO RESEARCHER UNLIKELY
CRUSADER AGAINST DRUG INDUSTRY
From The Cancer Chronicles #18
© November 1993 by Ralph W. Moss, Ph.D.
[DR. MOERTEL HIMSELF DIED OF CANCER SHORTLY AFTER THIS APPEARED. --ED.]
Charles Moertel is known as an opponent of alternative cancer treatments.
He oversaw the Mayo Clinic¹s negative trials of both laetrile and vitamin
C. Now, however, he has found an unlikely target: the giant U.S. company
that manufactures the drug levamisole.
In 1989, Dr. Moertel made headlines when he championed the use of 5-FU
and levamisole (an animal de-wormer) as the treatment of choice for advanced
colon cancer. At a meeting in Washington he handed over his clinical test
results on levamisole to Johnson & Johnson, the $12 billion-a-year health
care giant that holds a patent on the drug's use in cancer.
"I will do everything I can to help get this treatment to patients,"
he told assembled NCI, FDA and J&J officials. "In return, IŠwant a promise
from Johnson & Johnson that you will market this at a reasonable price.
I assumed they were honest and honorable people," he now says, in a detailed
account in the Los Angeles Times (9/11/93).
Nine months later, however, he learned that J&J had increased the price
of levamisole one hundredfold. For animals, it costs 6 cents per pill;
as a human cancer drug, $6.00. A year's supply for a sheep costs $1.00;
for humans, $1,200.00.
"So began the transformation," says the Los Angeles Times, "of a trusting
Mayo Clinic researcher into an outraged, outspoken industry critic." But
so far, J&J has refused to budge on the price. "We're the only Western
nation that doesn¹t regulate drug prices," Moertel fumes. "This is out
of hand. This is nonsense."
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