A friend recently posted that the conspiracy theories swirling around the pharmaceutical industry and its relationship to the FDA and etc don't make sense because they and their families get cancer too, so of course they'd want to find cures...
But that argument doesn't hold up under scrutiny. I'll get back to the specifics of that particular argument in a bit, but first let's discuss the reasons that Big Pharma and the FDA might have for obstructing the testing and approval of promising new treatments for cancer.
Pharmaceutical companies have lots of political clout; observe, for instance, political campaign contributions to both sides of the aisle from pharmaceutical, insurance, and tobacco companies over the last 30 years, and think about what value they were/are expecting from the money spent. They have HUGE incentives to get in the way of research on anything but their own extremely profitable drugs (common chemo treatments cost up to $50,000 per month at one treatment per week, some cost more).
Notice who benefits from the system set up currently in terms of getting treatments approved - the requirements for publishing, patenting, the bureaucratic hoops to be jumped, the insane amount of money required for even the smallest 'acceptable' human trials (which will not be anywhere near sufficient to get your treatment approved).
Check out who is on the board of the FDA, who pays them money for their services, where their investments are held, what their own patents and patents pending are. Check out the FDA rules about how and when drugs are approved. Check out the trials going on for the last few years, see how many are on new treatments vs. various combinations of the same old stuff that doesn't really work. Notice who is funding the trials.
Think about what these things mean for the big pharmaceutical companies, in terms of keeping the profits going on the drugs they already have patented. Think of what their stockholders expect. Look at what is happening to Eli Lilly at the moment because of their patents running out, and think what would happen to other pharmaceutical companies if their extremely profitable chemo and 'mental health' drugs were rendered pointless by better treatment.
Unfortunately, the 'they get cancer too' argument doesn't hold up, unless you also think that somehow the families of tobacco bigwigs (as well as the farmers and pickers and factory workers) were either immune from cancer or that they all TRULY believed that cigarettes don't cause cancer (in spite of the mountain of evidence waved in their collective faces).
In the end, the officers at pharmaceutical and tobacco companies have to weigh their options - do they give up their livelihoods right now, or do they take a little gamble on a potential risk down the road?
Also remember: like those of the tobacco industry, families of the officers of big pharmaceutical companies can well afford to go to Europe for the latest treatments, and they do so.
You and I don't have that luxury.
I'm not saying we should spend our hours sitting around in a stew of fury - that wouldn't be healthy for us, and we have troubles enough. But it's not good to close our eyes and pretend that everything is okay when it's not, either. The system is flawed, and it's not working for people with the deadliest forms of cancer. The survival rate (including median survival times) for breast cancer is exactly the same as it was in the 1930's. Do we find that acceptable, when we actually think about it?
We changed the system for children's cancers, and it has led to some significant advances in survival and treatment. We should be doing the same for adult cancers. But that won't happen until we stand up, yell loudly and put our votes where our mouths are. That happened when our insurance companies tried to decimate our treatment options for catastrophic/chronic illnesses back in the 1980's; we can do it for cancer, if we have the will.