Respectful Insolence

I hadn’t planned on writing about dichloroacetate, the inexpensive compound whose success in treating experimental cancer in rats that provoked a blogopheric storm about a “cancer cure” that would supposedly never see the light of day because it’s not patentable. After all, I’ve done about seven posts on the topic, give or take a couple, in the course of the last four weeks or so. That’s saturation blogging, and, really, nothing new has happened on the news front that merits a new post.

Or so I thought.

Then, like Michael Corleone in The Godfather, Part III, just when I thought that I was out they pull me back in. Worse, the one doing the pulling is Dave Springer (a.k.a. DaveScot) who comments:

The guy who started the DCA site discovered DCA by reading my articles on Uncommon Descent so I have a personal interest in how it turns out. There is now one person writing there who obtained a supply of DCA (works in the medical profession so was able to order pharmaceutical grade dichloroacetate acid sodium salt from TCI America), put it into 500mg capsules, and is taking two doses of 1000mg per day for 25mg/kg as used in the congenital lactic acidosis phase 2 trial. He’s also taking 500mg of vitamin B1 to counter possible side-effect neuropathy. He has metastatic prostate cancer. We’ll all know in 60 days or less whether DCA works in humans or not. If not for avarice we could have known two years ago. If it turns out the stuff works I don’t know how the discovers will be able to sleep at night knowing they sat on this for 2 years trying to find a way to profit from it.

Leaving aside DaveScot’s drama queen posturing and conspiracy-mongering (in which, ironically enough, he seems to be turning against Dr. Evangelos Michelakis, the discoverer that DCA can cause apoptosis of tumor cells and shrink experimental tumors in rats, if I’m interpreting his rant about “sitting on this for 2 years trying to find a way to profit from it” correctly), reading this you might think, why not? Despite the fact that DaveScot is inarguably a clueless medical ignoramus (in addition to his more widely known role as an ignoramus about evolution) but doesn’t realize it, maybe this will tell us something.

Maybe, but in reality, contrary to Dave’s bold reality-challenged assertion, it’s almost certain that we won’t “all know in 60 days or less whether DCA works in humans or not” based on a single person taking the drug, assuming what he has obtained is even truly pharmaceutical grade. Single anecdotes only rarely tell us anything definitive (or even anything truly compelling), and the plural of “anecdotes” is not “data.”

To begin with, only if DCA is extremely powerful against prostate cancer will it be likely that any objective evidence of efficacy at all would be seen in just 60 days in just one patient; prostate cancer is often (but not always) a slow-growing cancer. I sincerely hope that, if this guy’s tumor is still androgen-responsive, he isn’t stopping his hormonal therapy. That’s still the single most effective therapy for metastatic prostate cancer and provides excellent palliation. True, nearly all tumors become androgen-independent eventually and stop responding to androgen blockade, but the best prolongation of life in metastatic prostate cancer is generally produced by antiandrogen therapy. (On a side note, a common anti-androgen therapy used in prostate cancer is Lupron, you know, the drug that Mark and David Geier are giving to autistic children to “cure them” based on no good evidence.)

For another thing, even if objective tumor shrinkage were observed, that does not necessarily translate to improved overall survival. I know it’s hard for non-oncologists to understand how that could possibly be (and, indeed, even many oncologists fall into the same trap, given that tumor shrinkage is relatively easy to measure), but it’s true. Initial tumor response to chemotherapy (and, make no mistake about it, DCA is chemotherapy, the claims of one troll in my blog otherwise not withstanding) correlates much less strongly than you might thing with prolonged overall survival. True, observing tumor shrinkage is much better than no tumor shrinkage, but it’s only a marker that the drug could be prolonging life. There have been chemotherapy trials in which impressive initial tumor shrinkage was obtained that either did not translate into prolonged survival or only translated into slightly prolonged survival. That’s the reason why we need clinical trials with a large enough number of patients to determine whether treatment with the new drug actually does result in a prolongation of survival. One patient’s experience, unless it is a truly miraculous apparent “cure,” tells us little or nothing. Worse, on the DCA site, we find patients going through all manner of desperate contortions to try to obtain and use DCA, all before there is clinical evidence of efficacy. It is not hard to imagine these same patients exhausting their saving and remaining energy in search of this drug, particularly patients who were not that well-off to begin with.

As a thought experiment, though, let’s look at some possible outcomes to this uninformative experiment that is being trumpeted and what they may or may not mean:

1. The tumors are larger after 60 days of DCA treatment. This could mean that the drug is ineffective against prostate cancer. It could also mean that the tumors would have grown faster with no treatment, but the drug slowed them down, in which case it could also mean that the treatment wasn’t continued long enough or that the dose of DCA was too low. Those trying to use DCA to treat human cancer are assuming that the dose needed for cancer will be the same as what was effective in the lactic acidosis Phase II trial. There’s no sound justification for that assumption. If DCA is effective at all against cancer, it wouldn’t surprise me if the dose needed for cancer will be much higher than the dose for congenital lactic acidosis. There is no way of knowing, based on one patient, which interpretation is correct. That’s why clinical trials are needed to figure these questions out.

2. The tumors stay the same size after 60 days after 60 days of DCA treatment. In the lingo of cancer clinical trials, this is called “stable disease.” Seeing stable disease could mean that the drug kept the tumors from growing and that it might shrink them if the dose were higher. On the other hand, it might mean nothing at all. Prostate cancer is, as I have pointed out, often a fairly slow-growing tumor; the individual’s tumors may just not have grown enough in 60 days to be detected on imaging. Interpreting this result becomes even more complicated if the individual continues to take other treatments for the cancer. Which one did anything? Did any of them do anything? Did all of them do nothing? Did DCA antagonize the activity of another, effective drug? Did the other drug antagonize the activity of DCA (assuming that DCA has activity alone)? Would DCA have shrunk the tumors if the dose were higher? There’s no way to sort these questions out in a single patient. Again, that’s why we need careful clinical trials.

3. The tumors shrink during the 60 days of DCA treatment. If the individual is taking other drugs, this one would be difficult to interpret as well. (Maybe DCA potentiated the action of the other drug and is useless on its own, or maybe it truly worked, for example.) If he’s taking only DCA, tumor shrinkage would be indicative of a likely effect, but it would not necessarily mean that his life was being prolonged by the drug, although certainly we would hope that that’s what it would mean. Again, that’s why we need clinical trials with a large number of patients. Indeed, unless the tumor shrinkage were truly dramatic, as in “melting away to nothing,” it would be hard to infer from one patient that the treatment is doing what we want; i.e., prolonging life in the case of one patient.

The bottom line is that result #1 is by far the most likely result of this “experiment”; result #2 is the second most likely result; and the likelihood of result #1 or #2 happening is way, way more likely than #3. In either of those first two cases, we would have no idea (1) whether DCA truly doesn’t work against prostate cancer; (2) whether the dose was too low or the treatment too short; or (3) whether DCA might work against other tumors. Even if outcome #3 were to be observed, all we could say is that DCA would appear to have activity against a single patient’s prostate cancer. Response to chemotherapy is a stochastic issue, with a probability distribution of patients responding. Indeed, when looking at chemotherapy against solid tumors, there are numerous trials in which solid tumors respond with significant shrinkage in only 10%-20% of the treated patients. What if DCA were a drug like this and this “experimental subject” just happened to be one of the lucky ones whose tumors responded? As a counterexample, we could just as well turn this around and look at possibility #1, where the tumors don’t respond to DCA. In that case, we could ask: How do we know that DCA doesn’t work for a subset of patients, and this guy just happened to be one of the unlucky ones in which it didn’t work? In fact, we could imagine a scenario where DCA works for, say 75% of patients, but this guy happens to be one of the unlucky 25%. Based on one patient in this case, we would erroneously conclude that the drug “doesn’t work.”

Of course, it’s hard to tell a dying patient that he shouldn’t grasp at what he perceives to be his last chance at life, no matter how unlikely. I can’t even fault this patient with prostate cancer too much; he’s trying to save his life, not answer the definitive question of whether DCA works against cancer; it is DaveScot who is claiming his little “trial” will do that. I can’t even guarantee that, were I to develop metastatic cancer at my current (relatively) young age, I wouldn’t be highly tempted to use my status as a physician to pursue any option, including something like DCA. And that’s perhaps the biggest reason why the hype over DCA is so harmful, other than the misleading and ignorant claims made by DaveScot and his ilk. The harm, I would argue, is twofold. First, as I mentioned before, it sells false hope to desperate patients, some of whom may forgo effective palliative therapies seeking after this unproven drug. This is not unlike patients going to Tijuana for quackery, the only difference being that DCA might ultimately be proven to have efficacy. For example, look at this other “testimonial” from the DCA site:

We hope to help people in the same situation by shearing our experience with DCA.
We prepared a 12.5 gr Sodium dichloroacteta/100ml in pure water.
My wive (with metastasized colon cancer) took 4.5 ml (in a glas of water) twice daily (25 mg/kg/day). After 4 days she feels nauseous and she stopped after 6 days due to bad feeling. Now I think the problem was first due to the bad constitution of my wife (45 kg) and second we didn’t take care of vitamines and carbonhydrates. Both are very important by the fact that DCA stimulates the pyruvat dehydrogenase complex and by this a lot of vitamin B1 is used. We will try to give glucose as a carbonhydrat source half an our before DCA and daily vitamine B1 (thiamin).

Could measuring of lactate in blood be a good marker to find the best dose for DCA?

We are hopeful to that last chance and hope!

It’s heart-wrenching to see a woman who is dying of metastatic colon cancer, apparently to the point of being emaciated (her weight is around 99 lbs.), trying an unproven drug (DCA) as her last hope. Worse, this excessive hype of DCA by people like DaveScot and others opens the door to quacks to prey on desperate patients just like this woman. How long, do you think, will it be before quacks start selling DCA that is either sloppily synthesized and laden with possibly harmful impurities or isn’t even DCA at all? How long, do you think, will it be before quack clinics in Tijuana begin advertising that they have DCA, leading to another migration south of cancer patients, much like what we saw during the 1970′s and 1980′s with Laetrile? I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s already happening, and we have credulous and irresponsible bloggers like DaveScot and others to thank for stoking the demand.

The other pernicious effect is on the cancer patients themselves. Imagine yourself as dying of cancer. Now imagine that you see stories all over the Internet about a “cure” for cancer that is being kept from you because “big pharma” doesn’t find it “profitable enough” to pursue. Never mind that it’s only been tested in cell culture and animals. Never mind that it’s completely unknown whether it will even work in humans. It’s a cure! And, you’re told, it’s being kept from you by greed! You’re going to die unnecessarily because “they’re” keeping the cure for cancer from you!

Imagine how you would feel. It’s irrelevant that the true situation is that, although its preclinical activity looks promising, we have no idea whether DCA will work against cancer in humans. Also irrelevant is that, based on the history of drugs with anticancer activity in animals, it’s highly unlikely that DCA will be any sort of “cure.” Ditto that the true story of why drug companies appear uninterested in the drug is a more complicated story and is more indicative of systemic defects in our system of drug development and incentives for research and development of unpatented and unpatentable compounds than any malice. You would wonder if you were dying unnecessarily, whether drug companies are “denying you the cure“!

That’s the most pernicious effect of the bloviations of idiots like DaveScot of all. He’s already roped at least one into publicizing the drug before it’s ready for prime time. One result is this uninformative experiment, which is already influencing others, including the administrator of the DCA Site (Heather Nordstrom), who, in an action that is breathtaking in its level of utter irresponsibility and cluelessness, is promising in the near future to publicize information about where to obtain DCA. If you think that the purveyors of The DCA Site are doing this all out of the goodness of their hearts, think again. While poking around on the site, I noticed that the contact information is info@buydca.com. (“BuyDCA.com”?) Curious, I checked out whether there was a website to go with the domain, wondering: If you go to the BuyDCA.com website, what do you find?

Surprise, surprise! As one might expect from a name like BuyDCA.com, the website’s owners are selling DCA. Indeed, they’re selling it as a “cancer treatment for pets.” Gee, you don’t think they’re doing that to avoid the FDA scrutiny and potential liability, do you? Perish the thought, O cynical ones! How dare you doubt Heather? She’s doing it to help people! Of course, she and whoever else is responsible for running these websites will try to make sure that patients who buy DCA are only planning on treating a pet with cancer and aren’t planning on using on humans, right?

Yeah, right.

In other words, from my observations and reading, The DCA Site appears to be nothing more than an advertising site for BuyDCA.com. Does that make DaveScot a DCA shill?

I leave my readers to answer that question for themselves.

No one wants to tell cancer patients that they can’t have a promising experimental drug. No physician wants to tell dying patients that there is no longer anything modern medicine can do that will prevent their cancer from killing them and that all that can be offered is palliation. We don’t withhold experimental treatments from all but enrollees in clinical trials because we’re callous, cold, and don’t care. We do it because letting such medicines out prematurely has the potential to harm far, far more patients than it would help. Sanctioning the widespread use of an unproven drug like DCA is a recipe for disaster; like the recent well-intentioned but badly misguided movement to allow patients to have access to experimental drugs that have only passed Phase I studies, it could jeopardize the very science that would tell us whether it truly has any anticancer activity or not.

ADDENDUM: Walnut has posted his critique on Daily Kos as well.

All Orac posts on DCA:

  1. In which my words will be misinterpreted as “proof” that I am a “pharma shill”
  2. Will donations fund dichloroacetate (DCA) clinical trials?
  3. Too fast to label others as “conspiracy-mongers”?
  4. Dichloroacetate: One more time…
  5. Laying the cluestick on DaveScot over dichloroacetate (DCA) and cancer
  6. A couple of more cluesticks on dichloroacetate (DCA) and cancer
  7. Where to buy dichloroacetate (DCA)? Dichloroacetate suppliers, even?
  8. An uninformative “experiment” on dichloroacetate
  9. Slumming around The DCA Site (TheDCASite.com), appalled at what I’m finding
  10. Slumming around The DCA Site (TheDCASite.com), the finale (for now)
  11. It’s nice to be noticed
  12. The deadly deviousness of the cancer cell, or how dichloroacetate (DCA) might fail
  13. The dichloroacetate (DCA) self-medication phenomenon hits the mainstream media
  14. Dichloroacetate (DCA) and cancer: Magical thinking versus Tumor Biology 101
  15. Checking in with The DCA Site
  16. Dichloroacetate and The DCA Site: A low bar for “success”
  17. Dichloroacetate (DCA): A scientist’s worst nightmare?
  18. Dichloroacetate and The DCA Site: A low bar for “success” (part 2)
  19. “Clinical research” on dichloroacetate by TheDCASite.com: A travesty of science
  20. A family practitioner and epidemiologist are prescribing dichloracetate (DCA) in Canada
  21. An “arrogant medico” makes one last comment on dichloroacetate (DCA)

Posts by fellow ScienceBlogger Abel Pharmboy:

  1. The dichloroacetate (DCA) cancer kerfuffle
  2. Where to buy dichloroacetate…
  3. Local look at dichloroacetate (DCA) hysteria
  4. Edmonton pharmacist asked to stop selling dichloroacetate (DCA)
  5. Four days, four dichloroacetate (DCA) newspaper articles
  6. Perversion of good science
  7. CBC’s ‘The Current’ on dichloroacetate (DCA)

Comments

  1. #1 BioLogicalFan
    February 20, 2007

    “That’s saturation blogging, and, really, nothing new has happened on the news front that merits a new post.

    Excellent article by Deepak Chopra for a change

    Why Evolutionary Biology Embraces the Bogus (Part 2)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/why-evolutionary-biology-_b_41591.html

    “I realize that this kind of critique frustrates and even infuriates materialists. But objectively speaking, there are good reasons for being skeptical that large areas of speculation, such as evolutionary psychology, have any validity at all. Even biologists show considerable skepticism in this regard. They can see why genes explain the appearance of hemoglobin without necessarily being as successful in explaining the appearance of Bach. In the current climate of belief, however, the model of evolutionary biology is being painted far and wide across the landscape.”

  2. #2 S. Rivlin
    February 20, 2007

    I agree that we are witnessing a very irresponsible, if not a dangerous idiot who promotes an unproven anti-cancerous effect of a chemical in humans. Another point in this “very-well planned chemotherapeutic test” that the study subject and his pusher have not considered is the possible effect of daily doses (how much?) of vitamin B1. It is my opinion that people such as DaveScot (Dave Springer) should be prohibit by law from using their blogs and pseudoscientific knowledge to push unapproved drugs as if they are the right treatment for whatever illness. Are we going to read on DaveScot’s blog about the demise of his study subject? Will this charlatan ever admit that DCA could have contributed to such a demise? I don’t think so!

  3. #3 Orac
    February 20, 2007

    “BioLogicalFan” (or, as I’m sure you are, “ChopraFan”):

    Quit spamming my comments.

    Given your repeated offenses, the last of which is the straw that broke the camel’s back, this will be your one and only warning: Do not post links to Choprawoo in the comments of totally unrelated posts. It is irrelevant to the post at hand and detracts from the conversation. If you have something relevant to the post at hand, feel free to comment, but if you spam my comments with unrelated crap by Deepak Chopra again, you will be banned.

    You have been warned.

    By the way, you obviously don’t realize it, but by saying “excellent article by Deepak Chopra for a change,” you’re implying that his previous articles were crap. I couldn’t agree more, except that his most recent one is most likely crap as well.

  4. #4 Abel Pharmboy
    February 20, 2007

    More frightening news from my front: I’m getting e-mail from readers/families who have obtained and want to use dichloroacetic acid, a very strong acid that is certain to cause mouth and esophageal burns. The sodium dichloroacetate salt is what was used in Michelakis’ study and even that should be adequately buffered before using. This has gotten to be a complete mess, with one site offering to sell the agent for “veterinary use” so as to avoid any potential litigation.

  5. #5 Orac
    February 20, 2007

    Abel:

    Yikes! And I didn’t even take into account the whole issue of needing to buffer the compound!

    Maybe the reason that the woman with metastatic colon cancer felt so bad after taking the DCA is because it was too acid.

    Hopeless bored by grant writing, I took a ten minute break prompted by your mention of treating pets to do a little more digging. I’ve now updated my post accordingly. It now appears to me that The DCA Site is nothing more than an advertising site for another site, BuyDCA.com, which is doing what you described: Selling DCA as a cancer treatment for pets.

    Wink wink, nudge, nudge.

  6. #6 Alex
    February 20, 2007

    Well, that’s a first – blogger carries out dangerous medical experiment on reader. Taking an optimistic view, perhaps he’s making progress – we’ve got him to the point of experimenting, so perhaps with time and the cluebat he might make it out of the Feynman cargo cult phase and learn some statistics.

    But he may run out of friends to dose with unlicensed medicaments first.

  7. #7 J-Dog
    February 20, 2007

    In most of the cases involving internet quackery, you can follow the trail of “why” by following the money. However, in DaveScot Springer’s case, you have to follow the Cheesy Poof’s trail, that keeps him at his posting and fighting weight of @ 290. He would actually weigh less except that his fingers have wiped @ 5 lbs of crumbs onto his dirty, sweat-stained t-shirt.

    I also suspect that in Dave’s opinion, (which is the only right one, as far as he is concerned), DCA and Cheesy Poofs get him a cheap high. And when you are like Dave, and the Captain of a high-powered house boat, you need that kind of release.

    Cheesy Poofs are also vital to Dave, because he also has the HUGE responsibility of banning anyone with a dissenting opinion as Bill Dembski’s lackey on his IDiot blog.

    So don’t be too hard on Dave. He’s done as well as you can expect a delusional, chubby ex-Marine, to do. He has published drivel about evolution, and backs intelligent design. He has recently started posting against global warming, and as you bring up in detail, “cancer cures”. He is clearly in the running for the Lifetime Achievement Don Quixote Award, with all the windmills he tilts at.

    If his “little friend” would take the time to actually read what DaveScot has posted on various web-sites, they would understand and distance themselves from this nut-job.

    Brief CV:
    *Self-professed autodidact with IQ “in the 150++ range (based on SAT equivalency, NOT actual testing!)
    *Ex-Marine – worked on aircraft repair. After Viet Nam, before first Gulf war.
    *Married and lives on houseboat in TX (I suspect he lives in the basement of his mother’s house)
    *Dell-Made millionaire – got rich in the dot-com boom and cashed out. He says.
    *Blog “Moderator” for William Dembski’s Uncommon Descent website. He is supposed to keep the information flowing, but since ID has not real information, and is entirely a political attack on evolution, in reality, this means that he bans anyone with a dissenting opinion. For a more detailed look at the inanities and stupidity exhibited by Springer and his uninformed minions, please visit:

    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=45db2158b4bfc486;act=ST;f=14;t=1274

    Springer has the focus ability of an “idiot savant” and can totally ignore any verified and verifiable scientific evidence and discoveries in favor of “alternate evidence” and woo. For example, his latest delusion is to deny Global Warning, and he is comfortable railing against GW science, because he “looked at gross data from print-outs” for a couple of hours. Since he is a legend in his own mind, his 2 hours of reading qualifies Springer to lecture on Global Warming.

    As discussed in depth by Orac here, Springer also has more ability to cure cancer than Doctors and entire decades of research scientists. Of course he has probably read up on cancer now for a couple of hours, so at least it’s understandable. At least to him.

  8. #8 JujuQuisp
    February 20, 2007

    The most surprising thing about DaveScot’s post is that he actually has a friend! Seriously, my mother-in-law has been battling urachal cancer for 3 years now and has recently developed a partial small bowel obstruction due to an undiagnosed metastatic mass. They opened her up and closed her promptly without really doing much of anything because they couldn’t. I can understand how DaveScot feels about this situation with his friend, but he is playing a game he doesn’t know the ground rules for. He does this a lot and this time it is serious enough that it may catch up with him. Realizing you don’t know everything about everything and humbling yourself, DaveScot, may save you and your friend much misery. Don’t get me wrong, I hope things go well and DCA really is a cure and your friend does well. I would never wish anyone harm. But you need to be realistic, DaveScot. The experts aren’t “out to get” anyone. They are human beings just like yourself and, for the most part, want to help their fellow human beings. Everything isn’t a conspiracy, and everything isn’t always about greed. Just my thoughts.

  9. #9 Joshua
    February 20, 2007

    Unfortunately, this do-it-yourself attitude isn’t restricted to DCA or to idiot bloggers who (evidently) don’t know better. Apparently there’s some wacky former Harvard surgeon going around rubbing pig bladder extract on the severed finger-stumps of his friends and neighbours. No, really.

  10. #10 anonimouse
    February 20, 2007

    All this goes to show you is that the people who spend the most time bleating about their favorite woo usually have (at the very least) a strong emotional attachment to it and in many cases have far more spurious ones.

  11. #11 Rev. BigDumbChimp
    February 20, 2007

    However, in DaveScot Springer’s case, you have to follow the Cheesy Poof’s trail,

    coffee –> nose –> monitor

  12. #12 J-Dog
    February 20, 2007

    Thank you Rev – I am glad to help. Go to the linked website
    if you would like additional details of what is referred to as DaveScot Springer’s “Tard”.

    http://www.antievolution.org/cgi-bin/ikonboard/ikonboard.cgi?s=45db44ffc5182a2c;act=ST;f=14;t=1274;st=12210

    View the post(s) by Richard Hughes (writing as DaveScot Springer). Truly inspired, and coffee-to-the -keyboard worthy.

  13. #13 Ruth
    February 20, 2007

    Once upon a time, a drug screening turned up a potential lead, a simple, commercially available chemical, tacrine. And a big pharma company tested it and patented the use in treating Alzheimer’s. And there was much rejoicing. And lo, an NDA was submitted to the FDA, and Cognex was available for use in humans. And there was much rejoicing. Alas, many who tried this miracle drug were not cured. And the big pharma company sold it off to a little pharma company. And Cognex can still be purchased, but is no longer spoken of as a miracle cure. And so some of the pharma elders urge caution with new miracle drugs. But the young and foolish will not learn from their elders.

  14. #14 Zachriel
    February 20, 2007

    Orac: “Wink wink, nudge, nudge

    BuyDCA.com: 8 ounce bottle. (for 150 pound animal)

    What animal commonly found in a house weighs 150 pounds?

    Wink wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more. Say no more.

  15. #15 TheBrummell
    February 20, 2007

    Is there any possibility of this dosage of DCA seriously hurting DaveScot’s “friend”, enough to cause death or severe disability, without regard to changing the size of the tumor? I’m guessing this person has basically decayed health, so administration of something nasty and acidic (do you know how to buffer this stuff correctly? I certainly don’t!) could cause other damage to other tissues (stomach, liver, etc?) that could lead to option 4: patient dies of causes unrelated to existing tumor(s).

    Does that make DaveScot a DCA shill?

    DaveScot is obviously a complete moron. To be a shill, one requires a certain minimum level of intelligence. You have to be able to bargain with your ‘employer’ for the maximum-obtainable money, by convincing them (not necessarily stupid people, either) that you have the skills to spread their propaganda without it backfiring by getting ‘found out’. DaveScot would do the job for free (he’s a dot-com millionaire, after all) and blow his load so quickly nobody would doubt who he’s working for. I don’t think he can perform sinister-but-lame information crimes competently.

  16. #16 anonimouse
    February 20, 2007

    I don’t think he can perform sinister-but-lame information crimes competently.

    Who among us can?

    Remember kids, only you can prevent sinister-but-lame information crime.

  17. #17 Coin
    February 20, 2007

    Is it, in fact, legal to set up entire discussion fora dedicated to the illegal use of perscription drugs?

    I mean, I haven’t looked at this site too closely, I’m just curious, what happens if a website states on the front page “To avoid any government issues, we must state we are not doctors and cannot give medical advice.” and then on other pages walks people through self-medicating chemotherapy?

    How did you manage to get DCA?
    And, where did you go to get it?
    Did you have to resort to an international source?

    These questions will be answered soon on another website we will be posted soon; I’m sorry – we are working as fast as possible and there is SOO much to do. Hang in there!

    We put up this forum as a means of education and awareness… sources on how to obtain DCA will be posted as soon as possible.

    Heather Nordstrom
    TheDCASite Admin & Moderator

    And does it change things if– as this info@buydca thing seems to imply– the site operators appear to be in some way materially profiting from this?

    Hm.

    Kinda disappointing, I think I saw this dca site last week and at first, not-really-paying-attention glance it appeared to actually be a legitimate public involvement group trying to bring attention to DCA and shepherd it toward testing and development by applying public pressure. I was happy to see this, because I was glad somebody seemed to be attempting to go about this DCA thing the right way, rather than taking the route of alt-med bloggers, hyping untested drugs based on hope rather than evidence and encouraging people to go do potentially dangerous things outside the medical system.

    Whoops.

  18. #18 S. Rivlin
    February 20, 2007

    I have checked http://www.buydca.com/ where they sell DCA to treat cancer in pets based on the DCA research from Alberta, Canada. They sell a solution of DCA (8 oz. solution), which contains approximately 40 g of DCA for $20.00. One can order 1 kg (1000 g) of DCA from Sigma Chemicals for a mere $40.00. Simple calculation will show that this company resells this 1 kg for $1,000.00, a mark-up of 5,000%. Was it DaveScot who claimed that there is no profit in this drug and that is why the big pharma are not interested?

  19. #19 drerio
    February 20, 2007

    I think the FDA still regulates animal drugs, don’t they? I don’t think one can claim that “for pet use” absolves them of all oversight.

  20. #20 Mike Haubrich
    February 20, 2007

    I wonder if Dave’s friend may have learned anything from the story of Steve McQueen. Steve jumped on the laetrile bandwagon and discontinued other treatments.

    The thing that pisses me off the most is that the blogosphere is so quick that people who find out about DCA from multiple blogs spreading the quackery will assume that because so many people are promoting it, then it must be true. (Kind of like ID, right?) There is no creditable way to stop this nonsense. And I also wonder how long before DCA finds its way into Kevin Trudeau’s books.

  21. #21 doctorgoo
    February 20, 2007

    I think the FDA still regulates animal drugs, don’t they? I don’t think one can claim that “for pet use” absolves them of all oversight.

    Absolutely: http://www.fda.gov/cvm/

    These guys are totally clueless and are practically begging the FBI to throw them all in jail for a long time.

  22. #22 Renee
    February 20, 2007

    “What animal commonly found in a house weighs 150 pounds?”

    I knew someone who had a 180 lb. Saint Bernard. Not commonly found, but possible nonetheless. I believe some of the other large, big boned dogs like mastiffs can get up towards 150 lbs.

    I assume that BuyDCA.com is saying that DCA is only for veterinary use because:
    a. It was shown to be effective in treating rats with cancer, and …
    b. If the FDA comes calling, the BuyDCA.com site can claim that they never said it was for human use (only for 150 lb rats), and…
    c. If any human is harmed by using DCA, BuyDCA.com can turn around and claim that they never promoted it for human use, therefore they are not liable for any unexpected events associated with human use.

    Which brings a question to mind – Is the FDA aware of this whole DCA conundrum?

  23. #23 Alison
    February 20, 2007

    I’ll bet they are, but they’re waiting to see how well it works on DaveScot’s friend before they take definitive action.

  24. #24 Anonymous
    February 21, 2007

    “should be prohibit by law from using their blogs”

    What????! As if we need more nanny’s in today’s society.

  25. #25 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    Orac,

    We’ll know whether DCA works or not because there is going to be multitudes trying it soon. TCI America, the sole source of pharma grade DCA, is rationing the stuff because they don’t have enough of it and the price has tripled (last time I checked). Oncologists are writing prescriptions for it. It’s an uncontrolled substance and this was predictable once word got out. I estimated 60 days to give 30 days for the supply to ramp up and 30 days to find out the results from hundreds of individuals with all kinds of cancers. Suck it up and deal with it, Orac, you won’t get a few years grace to find out if you get a big serving of crow or not. Just to be safe, start thinking about another line of work.

  26. #26 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    I really don’t get you at all, Orac. How many thousands of people are dying miserable, rotten, ugly deaths every damn day from cancer? If DCA works, thousands every day will be saved. If it doesn’t there’s no harm done. They still die. It’s already been two years since Michelakis watched this stuff melt human tumors down by 75% in 3 weeks on lab rats. How many people died from cancer in those 2 years? A half million? A million? You’d know better than me. Oh, but that’s okay. Par for the course. Standard Operating Procedure. Protocols must be followed. Financial interests must looked after. EFSAD Orac.

  27. #27 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    I don’t have any friends or family with cancer. I wrote that once already in another DCA thread on this site. I’ve known some in the past of course and I’m I sure I will again in the future. It’s for those in the future that I want this stuff tested as soon as possible. A phase II trial could have started 2 years ago. That’s more than tragic enough already.

  28. #28 Andrew Dodds
    February 21, 2007

    I’ve actually seen Tri-chloro acetic acid burns from my time in a chemical factory; DCA(cid) is likely to be less severe but I wouldn’t go anywhere near it..

    I hope DaveScots friend (if he exists) makes a miraculous recovery.. but unfortunately I doubt it.

  29. #29 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    S.Rivlin is an incredible moron. Maybe someone ought to ban him here. In the meantime if I may borrow the cluestick for a moment: the price of pharma grade DCA

    http://www.tciamerica.com/cgi-bin/tci-catalog.cgi?catalog_no=D1719

    $170 for 25 grams @ 99% purity. “Pet-DCA” is 98% pure and is going for $20 for 40 grams. A bit of a difference there. It doesn’t appear like the seller is price gouging half as much as the source Michelakis used. In fact it’s so much cheaper one has to wonder if it’s really DCA.

    Am I the first to wonder if the stuff is just plain water and this whole thing is being set up to discredit DCA in order to preserve profitability for mainstream, hideously expensive and highly profitable cancer treatments? Using the “follow the money” premise that makes a whole lot more sense. Someone stands to gain a few bucks by selling DCA for $20 for a 30-day supply while an industry with uncountable billions in annual sales is decimated if DCA works. Follow the money indeed.

  30. #30 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    Zachriel asks:

    “What animal in the house commonly weighs 150 pounds?”

    Large breed dogs.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=dogs+weight+%22150+lbs%22

    Any other stupid questions I can answer for you in less than 30 seconds, Zach?

  31. #31 Orac
    February 21, 2007

    Am I the first to wonder if the stuff is just plain water and this whole thing is being set up to discredit DCA in order to preserve profitability for mainstream, hideously expensive and highly profitable cancer treatments?

    Actually, you should look more closely on their website. In the forums, they say they’re importing the stuff from China; yet on the BuyDCA website they’re saying they make the stuff themselves. Which is it? We don’t know. And the method they claim to be using to synthesize the stuff seems highly suspect to me. In addition, the “experiment” that is being carried out will not tell us one thing. It’s also highly unlikely that even the use of the drug by lots of desperate people under uncontrolled conditions will tell us anything, because. Again, unless DCA is truly a miraculous substance that cures cancer quickly (highly unlikely), to figure these things out, clinical trials are needed.

    What Heather and her stepfather are doing is reckless, unscientific, and utterly unethical. It’s likely to harm far more people than help, not to mention to give false hope to dying patients. Indeed, if, as you claimed, Heather’s stepfather learned about DCA through your idiotic posts on UD, then you are also partially responsible for the harm these two cause.

    In any case, to make you grate your teeth more, I have a second post about BuyDCA.com scheduled to appear in about two or three hours. Enjoy!

  32. #32 Orac
    February 21, 2007

    Suck it up and deal with it, Orac, you won’t get a few years grace to find out if you get a big serving of crow or not. Just to be safe, start thinking about another line of work.

    I’d love it if cancer were eliminated. I could always go into a different surgical specialty, and I could always do research into other questions, other diseases. Sadly, unless DCA is a wonder cure (and, believe me, it’s almost certainly not), cancer isn’t going away within your or my lifetime. As for our “knowing” based on lots of patients taking it, that’s not what you said. You described the prostate cancer patient taking DCA for 60 days and said we’d “know” in 60 days. You appear to be changing your story.

    Unless DCA is indeed a truly miraculous cancer cure, it is unlikely that we will “know” anything after 60 days of uncontrolled and unsupervised dosing of cancer patients with the stuff. That was basically the evidence presented for the efficacy of laetrile 30 years ago. When it was subjected to controlled studies, it was found not to have any anticancer effect. Unless the anticancer effect is so blindingly obvious that it can’t be missed, this sort of uncontrolled use is likely to tell little or nothing. In any case, my guess is that the dose being recommended is very likely too low for cancer; so even if we don’t see anything that doesn’t mean that the drug doesn’t work. And, of course, higher doses will mean more side effects and adverse reactions.

  33. #33 Alex
    February 21, 2007

    Dave, if you really believe that you know better not just than the evolutionary biologists, palaeontologists, archaeologists, geologists and astrophysicists, but also than the oncologists, biochemists and toxocologists, why don’t you try a drop yourself?

  34. #34 Alex
    February 21, 2007

    Before you run off and shoot the stuff up, or else out yourself as a hypocrite and a coward – hell, it’s your choice! – can you explain to us exactly how a rat can have “human tumours”?

  35. #35 Ric
    February 21, 2007

    DaveScot, you need to take a critical thinking course so you don’t get sucked in by every conspiracy theory that comes down the pike. Also, if you think that there is no harm done when people try this stuff and still die, you’re off your rocker.

  36. #36 rrt
    February 21, 2007

    I had a whole reasoned response in mind to offer DaveScot, the gist of which was that Orac wouldn’t be eating crow even if DCA proved to be The Cure For Cancer(tm), because no matter what, controlled studies are essential, and Orac has been very even-handed in discussing all possibilities. But as I read on, I was stunned by the dishonesty, paranoia and downright idiocy of DaveScot’s comments. I no longer see the point of trying to engage you seriously.

    I’ve certainly heard of you, Dave, and I’ve read bits and pieces and been unimpressed. But until now, I hadn’t really seen the full force of…uh…you. Those three comments encapsulate your persona better than anything I’ve seen.

    Alex: Regarding human tumors on mice, iirc, there are some experimental techniques that could be more or less described that way, either involving grafting or genetically modified mice…?

  37. #37 S. Rivlin
    February 21, 2007

    Dave Springer,

    You have banned me from your IDiot blog for voicing opinions contrary to yours, yet here you are, calling me a “moron” and you are not banned, which is probably the right approach if you insist on showing off your stupidity.

  38. #38 Ric
    February 21, 2007

    Yeah, DaveScot doesn’t do so well in an open forum where he has to offer reasoned, non-paranoia driven evidence to support his side. He’s much better at just banning those who disagree with him.

  39. #39 doctorgoo
    February 21, 2007

    Orac, come on now… davetard just knows that DCA is gonna work. His magical thinking will allow any result to convince him of it.

    BTW… It shouldn’t come as a surprise to ANYBODY that someone who’s gullible enough to buy into intelligent design would also fall into the DCA trap. I wouldn’t be surprised if he next started peddling urine enema therapy to cure acne, or something else just as wooey.

  40. #40 Orac
    February 21, 2007

    DaveScot,

    This one’s for you–and Heather!

  41. #41 anonimouse
    February 21, 2007

    DaveScot,

    The one thing I cannot stand is a hypocrite. If you are going to shill for DCA and get a cut of Heather’s profits, the least you can do is admit that you’re doing so. You wouldn’t want us to find out at some point down the line that you DID have a stake in buydca.com and make you look even more despicabe, would you? You can only hide the financial incentives for so long.

  42. #42 JujuQuisp
    February 21, 2007

    I have never once heard DaveTard make a statement in a respectful or humble manner. He is very rude and arrogant. Let him do whatever he wants. Eventually, this attitude will catch up with DaveTard and he will rue the day he played god with all of his pawns. You’ll never convince him of anything so why waste your energy? Sensible and reasonable people see right through him, that’s why I think we should just let him roll in his own sh*t for a while.

  43. #43 Robster
    February 21, 2007

    Dave,

    Oncologists are writing prescriptions for it.

    Care to back that up? It sounds extremely unethical, and could easily cost someone their license.

  44. #44 Alison
    February 21, 2007

    I bet some of those altie-woo practitioners in mexico call themselves oncologists, so once again DaveScot has proven you wrong with his superior skills with teh google. “Licenses? We don’ need no steenkin’ licenses!”

  45. #45 Prometheus
    February 21, 2007

    The uncontrolled N=1 “experiment” of DCA vs prostate cancer would be useful only if we knew what the progression of subject’s prostate cancer would have been in the absence of DCA. Since this is in the category of “unknowable information”, the most that we’ll be able to tell from this “experiment” is whether the poor man suffers any untoward side effects.

    But this sort of thing has been said before – over and over and over again.

    In reality, DaveScot (and, most likely, the poor chap who’s taking DCA) has little or no understanding of what DCA is, does, or might do. He has no more knowledge of biology or medicine than my left front tire. So, what is DaveScot that he so confidently praises DCA and heralds its coming (inevitable?) vindication?

    He’s a parrot.

    I have a neighbor who raises parrots and trains them to say all sorts of arch and amusing things. They can quote Byron and one can even rattle off a good portion of the Periodic Table. But they don’t understand a word of it.

    Neither does DaveScot.

    If he truly understood the biology (and chemistry) of cancer and DCA as well as his attitude might make one think (if “one” were a neutral, naive observer), he would realize that he is being rather silly.

    DCA may yet have some positive role to play in the treatment of cancer, but the data are not yet in. And all his assertions, scurrilous tales and conspiracy theories will not alter that fact one iota.

    Is DCA promising? Maybe – and maybe not. Can it be “the” cure for cancer? History tells us, “Probably not.” Is it likely to have its own suite of unpleasant, possibly deadly side effects? Again, history (as well as biology and chemistry) tells us, “Almost certainly.”

    But DaveScot, being just a parrot, doesn’t know any of that.

    Prometheus

  46. #46 JujuQuisp
    February 21, 2007

    You hit the nail on the head, Prometheus. He is nothing more than a parrot. Working in academic medicine, I have come across many residents and students that I would consider “parrots”. They get all the answers right when you pimp them, but put them in a practical situation or try to ask questions synthesizing the information, and they flail around. Any time you ask DaveTard to synthesize anything, he’ll simply dodge the issue, get louder, ban you, or run away. He is a genius, though, at googling and cutting and pasting. This is nothing that my 15 year old daughter couldn’t do if she had the time or desire to do.

  47. #47 Geoff
    February 21, 2007

    I am a PhD student currently researching ways to detect, prevent and treat breast cancer. I am appalled at how much press and propaganda yet another “cure for cancer” has received. One need simply look at the scientific literature to see that there is a new drug every week that kills cancer cells in culture and in animal models. In my lab alone we probably have over 20 agents that kill cancer cells. Our problem isn’t killing cancer cells in the lab, our problem is killing cancer cells in people. It seems that DCA may be safe at certain doses, but will it actually kill cancer in humans? At what dose? Which cancer will it work on? These are all questions that the “evil” drug companies spend millions of dollars to answer so that the most benefit can be done. Many small start-up companies have gone under because they didn’t target the right cancer and their trials failed.
    It is sad to me that patients are being confused into thinking DCA is some new cheap wonder drug that big pharma is keeping a secret. I hope some organizations perform some well designed clinical trials with DCA so we can really know if it will do some good. A misinformed one-man clinical trial is simply going to do more harm than good. There is power in doing science the right way, although I will be the first to admit that it is still too slow. Shame on DaveScot for perpetuating and supporting pseudo-science.

  48. #48 Zachriel
    February 21, 2007

    Zachriel asks: “What animal in the house commonly weighs 150 pounds?”

    DaveScot: Large breed dogs.

    Commonly? What percentage of households have 150 lbs. dogs? What percentage of households have a different mammal in that weight-range? Which mammal do you really think they are marketing to?

    This is what they say on BuyDCA.com: Always consult with your physician or veterinarian before embarking on a new medical treatment, diet or fitness program.

    Consult your physician?

    BuyDCA.com: To insure the product is safe for all buyers, there can be no refunds or returns.

    Safe for the buyer?

  49. #49 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    robster

    Posters on thedcasite forum have reported getting prescriptions written for DCA as an off label drug. All reported they couldn’t find a pharmacy that could fill it. They’re anonymous postings so take it for what it’s worth.

  50. #50 DaveScot
    February 21, 2007

    alex asks how a rat can have human tumors

    In a nutshell, there’s a line of lab rats with compromised immune systems that don’t reject human cancer cells.

    Next!

  51. #51 anonimouse
    February 21, 2007

    Shame on DaveScot for perpetuating and supporting pseudo-science.

    Dave doesn’t care. He’d rather insist he’s right and/or make a few bucks instead.

  52. #52 Scott Belyea
    February 22, 2007

    Orac wrote:

    … not to mention to give false hope to dying patients.

    Is false hope worse than no hope? I don’t know …

  53. #53 doctorgoo
    February 22, 2007

    Is false hope worse than no hope? I don’t know …

    Is pretending to live in a fantasy world better than admitting the reality of your situation?

    Hypothetically speaking… if I had no hope of surviving cancer, I wouldn’t want to waste the rest of my life on false hopes. I’d just face the fact that I was going to die soon, and spend as much time as possible with those I love.

  54. #54 Robert Smith
    March 1, 2007

    Read the constitution, people have a right to take whatever the hell they want, especially when they know they are going to die anyway.

  55. #55 Bob Brister
    March 20, 2007

    For Orac:
    Since DCA effects are not news, why haven’t there been more human trials to explore this as a cancer treatment? So what if it is effective only in some cases?

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