We all know drug companies can’t be trusted. Profit driven entities, they only produce drugs that are meant to heal when there is money in it for them. Making available free and natural treatments, testing plants that they cannot monolopise and holding people and governments to ransom the world over, anybody who things drug companies are concerned about them needs their head examined.

So it’s not really surprising to hear that most new cancer drugs don’t extend life. Researchers from King’s College London and the London School of Economics found that after five years on the market, only 11 out of the 68 approved drugs showed “clinically meaningful benefit,” as determined on a scale used by the European Society of Medical Oncology.

drugsThe study says it’s much the same story in Europe and America. The problem stems from the use of “surrogate endpoints”, an end point of a study selected by the drug company to prove to the regulator that their drugs work when applying for permission to produce them.

The endpoints may be a blood test or a length of time when the cancer is shown to not have spread any further. Without using these surrogate endpoints, the drug companies would have to wait years to see if the drugs had any beneficial effect or extended the life of the patient.

Once the drug is approved, the drug companies are meant to continue to collect information. But often, two things happen – either the beneficial effect doesn’t happen or the data is simply not collected.

Which raises the question what your health service is doing when they don’t demand that further proof and the regulators clearly haven’t been asking for it.

It’s not just a cancer drug problem either – the lack of data and useless drugs extends across the system. Dr. Vinay Prasad, writing in an editorial in the BMJ claimed, “What these papers are showing is that for maybe almost as much as half of the drugs out there, we never get this information,”