At first blush this seems like an exciting new discovery, right? Grandma won't have to go to the home, Grandpa will be able to recognize you. Hell, let's put this stuff in the drinking water, better cognition for all!
But not so fast. First, this is not your highly rigorous, double blinded, peer reviewed study that means Science with a capital "S." Instead, you have a physician who is conducting his own, off-label study - and he has stock in the pharmaceutical firm that has created it. Then you have him apparently trying to patent his scarily invasive delivery method - and insisting that no other method will work - which other doctors dispute. And then you have the manufactuer in question declining to explore this off label use of their drug because they just don't think getting into it is going to be cost effective. Physician ego, scientific community in-fighting, pharma's orientation towards the bottom line... pretty much business as usual. So even if this was a cure, and it's always possible that this man and the other 14 patients in his cohort are just flukes, it's going to be years before a clinical trial even gets funded and five or so years after that before it's available for the average patient and covered by insurance. And this is with technology available now. I have doubts they'll cure Alzheimer's in my lifetime, I can only hope I don't get it (and with a big branches of my family tree a mystery to me, I have no way of knowing what's in store).
Awful, you say? The alternative is the equally as common pushing drugs through before they're ready - heart attacks from cox-2 inhibitors, anyone? Or ask Europeans of a certain age about thalidiomide. No easy answers but certainly some interesting scenarios.
Originally posted on jette.vox.com