The Cancer Treatment business is a very large business–one of the largest in the world. There are literally many hundreds of billions of dollars spent on cancer drug research. In fact, a lot of Big Pharma companies are beginning to devote more research efforts into cancer research. It is a very lucrative market. Cancer drugs are extremely expensive. The average cancer patient spends approximately $100,000 on cancer treatments. What is amazing to me is that the expenditure is very high, but the probability of success (i.e., a cure or long life with a high quality-of-life) is small, despite industry statistics.
Big Pharma is starting to show more interest in cancer drugs because the other markets are beginning to wane. Although there have been big successes with drugs in other market niches, the cancer niche is ripe for more profits. The reason for this is that the profits are huge for these drugs, the prices can be very high for them, and with increasing complexity of the cancer research paradigm, there will be a lot of specialized drugs that can be developed for treatment.
It is simple for me to understand why Big Pharma does not search for any other treatment modality besides drugs. Unfortunately, most laypeople do not understand this reasoning. I believe that most researchers and physicians understand this implicitly, but suffer from ‘strategic amnesia’ , and do not speak on these issues. It would be akin to committing financial suicide.
It is easy to philosophize about high ethics and scientific honesty in a perfect world. But when people’s power, influence, social status, affluent lifestyles and job security are on the line, things change. Nobody wants to put himself out of a great job. And nobody wants to rail against the status quo and risk professional ostracism. It’s easy for people to blindly believe in scientists, but they are social beings just like the rest of us. They are influenced by the same things that influence the rest of us. It is blatantly naivé to think that vast profits do not affect the cancer treatments that are offered to patients.
Thinking that Big Pharma will come up with a treatment method that doesn’t involve drugs is not realistic. They are paid by creating and marketing drugs. Big Pharma now has great influence over medical education in America, and the A.M.A. works closely with Big Pharma. There are huge financial incentives to embrace drugs and to categorically reject anything outside of the drug paradigm. No other logical reason exists to reject other treatment methods, especially when the dismal recovery and cure rates for conventional cancer treatment methods are taken into consideration. There are powerful forces at work here.