Claude Bernard lives on – or rather his principles. The ones I always admired and still try to emulate was his emphasis on doubt, the need for proof and ethical conduct – especially as applied to research and medical practice. These have led me to dwell on the drug treatment of cancer that has spread – the so-called metastatic disease that is now the commonest cause of death in many societies. Its treatment is beset with uncertainties. The vulnerable public often wish for and hope for any prolongation of their life and at any expense – physical and financial. They are the victims of a greedy medical industrial complex that embraces pharma, government, oncologists and the media. I am committing the last part of my life to an attempt at mitigating this powerful influence which is overwhelmingly anti-ethical.
I have crystallized my perception of the problem in an analysis which has just been published in the British Medical Journal – entitled ‘Cancer Drugs – survival and ethics’.
The response has been extraordinary, the Altmetrics score of 1350 putting it into the top 1% of attention-grabbing articles ever published. This response has added fuel to my fire, and I will be examining approaches that could put the drug treatment of metastatic disease on an ethically more acceptable plane.
Watch this space…….