Despite the findings, these drugs are touted as the next major breakthrough in cancer treatment by the media and cancer support groups—many of which get funding from the pharmaceutical industry.
These failings cast doubt on the initial research that was carried out in order to get the drugs approved in the first place, say researchers from King’s College London. Researchers achieve success with what is known as ‘surrogate markers.’ This means they achieved the principle aim of reducing tumor size, for instance, usually in a laboratory, but the way a patient was affected wasn’t tracked. Around 57 per cent of the drugs the researchers investigated had won approval on the basis of surrogate markers.
The practice is dangerous because cancer patients are not being given older drugs with some evidence of success. Instead, they are given one of the new very expensive ‘wonder’ drugs that aren’t working.