26 Jul 2011

Creating Your Own Clinical Trial

I went to my medical oncologist today ostensibly for a checkup but truly armed with determination and new resolve.  I had recently read of and investigated a drug which has worked wonders in arresting the progress of cancer in mice that had been implanted with ovarian cancer cells. 
This drug has been used for years for other purposes namely alcohol and drug addiction as well as been safely and efficiently used in the treatment of Crohn's disease and pancreatic cancer.  Crossover drugs are very common in the cancer business.
The funny thing about this drug is that I'd heard about it several years earlier from a couple whom we'd met on a cruise.  The gentleman was suffering from cancer and was taking this drug in lieu of chemotherapy - much to the dismay of his oncologist - who considered it homeopathic and not a serious cancer treatment protocol.
So, braced with these memories and with the article which was published in a very reputable science journal - I gave the document to my oncologist and said "I'd like a prescription for this".  I said I had done my homework and over and above the claims of "arresting the progress of ovarian cancer" the side effects were negligible other than sleeplessness for the first two weeks; the drug enhanced platinum-based chemotherapy and attenuated (lessened) its side effects. He took my request seriously.  He asked me to wait a while so he could check it out.
He returned saying that he couldn't say no but he couldn't say yes either - explaining that there was enough data to say yes but that unless it came under the heading of a formal clinical trial, he couldn't deviate from the government-regulated, accepted treatment protocols existing for ovarian cancer.  So, if he couldn't prescribe this drug could my GP I asked?  YES, he responded.
To be sure that what I was asking for is really what I wanted to do - knowing that it is to be taken alongside chemo scheduled for tomorrow - I thought that the best thing to do is as my Dad would say "Go right to the top".  So, I called the author of the mouse study.  The doctor's answering machine asked that one email their questions and so I did.  He replied within 10 minutes giving me his sympathies for having the disease, provided the suggested dosage of the drug and enclosed other publications of his which appeared in the most prestigious gynecology/oncology medical journals. I was convinced.
Realizing that this is a very specific drug - something that would not be readily available -  I then called my pharmacy to see if they could compound it.  No, was the answer but they gave me the name of a pharmacist  who would.  I called them and bingo, yes they could.  Details given, they awaited the prescription.
Next, I emailed my GP with the link to all of the publications and my correspondence with the author of the study.  Yes, his office replied, he would write the script.
Lastly, I dug into our old files for the telephone number of the people from the cruise.  I called them to find out what their opinion/experience with this drug was and any other details that they were willing to provide.  The gentleman has been on it for four years and hasn't had a chemo treatment since.
There haven't been any clinical trials that suit my condition so in essence, I've created my own.


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