Only unusual ways lead to unusual destinations
A critical evaluation
Under no circumstances would I want to downgrade the achievements of modern medicine for humanity. Nevertheless, this form of medicine with all its high technologies and refinements involved cannot cover the entire spectrum of human diseases or their treatment. Since human beings are not a standard outcome of industrial production, but highly complex individuals, they have different needs. So how can the treatment of all somatic or mental illnesses be based solely on guideline conformity and standardization? How can you speak of therapeutic freedom as long as a doctor is urged not to treat his patients based on his knowledge and experience, but has to strictly follow standardized guidelines? In the event of violation, a doctor is faced with the allegation of having deliberately endangered the well-being of his patient!
In the European Union, legal regulations render medical research a privilege for authorized circles only (Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products [ATMP], German Medicines Act [AMG], or Comittee for Medicinal Products for Human use [CHMP] and Good manufacturing practices [GMP] etc.). This centralistic system and monopoly also includes ethical evaluations: Since the elite want to control everything and, unconventional research approaches that do not comply with their the rules are often declared as “unscientific and unethical” or sometimes criminalized – even if they have achieved stunning positive results. In addition, these regulations serve only to favor the competition of large companies. Because, a market launch of a new drug from the laboratory to the pharmacy shelf costs more than a billion dollars. For “equality” reasons a small company should meet the same conditions as a large multinational company with capital in the upper three-digit billion range. A billion is just “pea nuts” for them, while the little ones have to put their entire capital at risk.
iREM can be seen as a prime example of this perception. Instead of providing support for this most interesting approach, my work has been criminalized by society and/or its academic institutions as if the – obviously positive – treatments were on the same level as an open violation of law.
Apart from these restrictions patent legislation denies unfortunately the recognition of any medical treatment as intellectual property as if they are banalities. It means legal protection for such achievement like iREM is not possible (for example German Patent Law, Chapter 2).
Reality shows on TV spill out millions of dollars, and people around the world have no problem spending billions of dollars in the vanity of sports, music, or Instagram idols. At the same time, it is naturally expected that medical researchers leave their creativity and productivity to a basically indifferent society for a warm handshake and applause. Is that ethically and morally correct?
Health and suffering should never be commodities! BUT…
Although I believe that the excessive commercialization of disease treatment is a form of human rights violation, I cannot resist the following considerations: Thanks to politics and excessive capitalism, intellectual property can be protected in any form (e.g. pictures, music, designs, logos, software, etc.). This in itself is not reprehensible, as it is the reward for (mental, physical, financial, time) efforts, performance, commitment. However, in the field of medical research, any doctor or scientist is without protection – his findings are considered not to be patentable. As a justification, the doctor’s ethical and moral obligation to humanity is put forward. Still, this form of commitment does not apply to the pharmaceutical industry. Under the guise of “research and investment expenditure”, greed for profit is the order of the day – or how should it be called then if, for example, the sale of a single treatment dose for 2 million dollars is said to be morally justifiable? I call it reprehensible. But if this standard applies, it should be measured on the same scale – Achievements of researchers like iREM must as well be recognized as intellectual property!
It is generally assumed that individual cancer treatments such as iREM are neither applicable for masses nor economically interesting. However, this may be a fatal mistake, as only devoted willpower and thoughtful organization is needed.
Suitable for mass application: With the necessary infrastructure, which can be set up relatively unproblematically by a state / the international community, iREM treatment can be implemented even in most remote regions – even without polluting the environment.
Economically interesting: In addition, with an immense number (many millions) of people affected worldwide, industry and business can benefit from the boom in the field of laboratory equipment and consumables; personnel requirements (doctors, biologists, laboratory assistants, technical maintenance staff, etc.) would create millions of new jobs worldwide. Furthermore, you should always keep an eye on a certain patent options that can be hidden in process steps of iREM treatment (!).
My suggestion: As mentioned above, the collection of “protection money” is perfectly organized all over the world. It is only legitimate to implement an analogous basis for medical procedures such as iREM as well, so that the intellectual performance of researchers is generally recognized. This is a matter of principle.
Since the American President Nixon proclaimed the “War on Cancer” in 1971, the world community has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to “win” the fight against cancer – with questionable success. Only the costs from the start of treatment to the death of cancer patients have increased from 4-digit dollar amounts to 6-digit figures. And still nations are prepared to spend more billions in research, perhaps merely an employment measure for academics. Are authorities indifferent to people suffering from cancer, as long as they hold back the chance that iREM provides?
Since the 1980s I have been following developments in molecular biology with great attention. Although there were high hopes for this promising technology, I viewed the whole thing from a skeptical distance. “All human health problems could soon be dealt with” said the experts. But meanwhile the disappointed expectations are mounting. I am always convinced that one shouldn’t mess with nature – at some point it will strike back mercilessly. In my opinion, genetic engineering is making this very mistake. It is comparable to a game of Mikado: you can first pull a number of sticks out of the pile, but the one decisive one brings the whole thing down.
Due to the above-mentioned strict guidelines, it is to be feared that researchers worldwide are unlikely to make any progress in the future. If anybody would be forced to obey official rules step by step, the realization of an idea like the iREM would take decades and millions of dollars. Therefore, independent and creative research strategies to cure cancer are urgently needed.