Most people would be quite surprised to learn that there is a vaccine for lung cancer, one which has been proven effective in over 25 years of intense research and several years of clinical use. So why is most of the world only learning about it now? The answer is complicated by back-room dealings in the dark recesses of government, and by the unhealthy influence that pharmaceutical companies have on the availability of life-saving medications.
Cuba has faced many public health issues over the last few decades, one of the gravest being related the country’s most famous export, tobacco. A rise in cases of lung cancer prompted this small nation to develop a drug called CimaVax EGF, which is now one of the most effective medications in existence to treat lung cancer.
The Lung Cancer Treatment That Actually Works
The vaccine works by limiting a patient’s ability to produce a hormone called EGF. This hormone has been shown to play a pivotal role in cell division and the growth of malignant cells. As cancer is the result of cells dividing again and again to create tumours, the vaccine reduces this growth by halting EGF production, thereby stopping the tumor’s growth.
CimaVax EGF has been proven to work in at least two clinical trials in Cuba, and the results have shown that the vaccine improves survival rates in those who are suffering from the later, usually terminal, stages of lung cancer. It has been hypothesized that survival rates may increase further still if the vaccine is administered during earlier stages of the disease’s progression. It does not work in the same way most people think vaccines work, and is not preventative, but once a patient has lung cancer the drug turns a death sentence into a manageable chronic condition.
Furthermore, reported side-effects of the vaccine are mild, but nothing like painful and debilitating conventional treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, which can kill the patient. Incredibly,the vaccine only costs $1 to produce, and Cuba has made it available for free to patients since 2011, despite the fact that the island nation is a much poorer country than the U.S. and the affluent West.
So, what’s the big issue, then, and why is this treatment not available elsewhere?
Investment Watch, October 4, 2015