Since the end of the 19th century, new medical innovations have allowed us to live longer, healthier, higher quality lives. As a result of the many advances in modern medicine, countless diseases and medical conditions have been reduced to mere nuisances or completely eradicated.
The United States of America has always been at the forefront of medical progress. However, despite the fact that the United States is widely known as the world’s leader in medical innovation, many nations in Latin America are developing and implementing some of the world’s most promising cancer treatments.
In fact, many of the best new proven cancer treatments developed in Latin America are so progressive, they haven’t even reached US shores. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons Latin America is leading the way and some of the latest cutting-edge cancer treatments under development.
Why isn’t the United States ahead of Latin America as an innovator for cancer treatment?
Although medicine is about helping people, it is also a multi-trillion dollar industry. In 2012 alone, the U.S. healthcare industry generated $3 trillion. To bolster these numbers, healthcare companies actively search for ways to drive healthcare costs up — by any means they deem “necessary”.
Big pharma isn’t only trying to drive up profits by increasing the costs of individual treatments. Like any corporation, many big healthcare organizations are actively standing in the way of any innovation that might hurt their bottom line. This is especially true for the cancer treatment industry, which is expected to generate around $173 billion by 2020 on its own
Governmental red tape
Although big pharma has done a lot to stand in the way of cancer treatment innovation in the U.S., the government hasn’t made things very easy in this department either. Before a small biotech company, big corporation, or anyone else can make any medical treatment available for use, the FDA has to approve it. In most cases, this process is rigorous and expensive.
This is due in part to the FDA and other governmental organizations involved in the approval process spending nearly half of their time doing administrative busy work, rather than exploring the benefits and risks of medical innovations. This sluggish red tape is also due in large part to forceful lobbying efforts funded by big healthcare corporations.
Healthcare innovation is expensive. Research into a single cancer treatment can cost millions of dollars. Failing to create a successful treatment could spell doom for a healthcare organization. With all of the corporate blockades and government red tape in the way, many would-be cancer treatment innovators are afraid to even try.
Why has Latin America become such a major innovator for cancer treatments?
More flexible regulation
Unlike nations like the U.S., which require extensive testing within its borders before a treatment gets approved, most Latin American nations accept approval from credible sources like Europe’s CE Mark. This streamlines the approval process for new innovations, mitigating fears and getting the latest cancer treatments to patients faster.
A different type of profit motive
Unlike the U.S. healthcare industry, whose profits rely on keeping things the same for as long as possible, the Latin American healthcare is growing based on a risk/reward approach. This means that they rely on newer innovations — and not current treatments — to make money.
What types of cancer treatments are being developed in Latin America?
A powerful cancer vaccine developed in Cuba
In 2012, Cuba patented the world’s first therapeutic vaccine designed to combat lung cancer. The very next year, they developed a second version of this treatment. While this is not a total cure, it has proven to shrink the size of tumors, improve the health of patients, and extend lives. At this time, Cuba’s therapeutic lung cancer vaccines are not available in the U.S.
Insulin Potentiation Therapy (IPT) developed in Mexico
IPT combines insulin with lower doses of chemotherapy to provide a more effective cancer treatment that can be used more often with fewer side effects. It was invented in Mexico by Dr. Donato Perez Garcia in 1930 and further developed by his grandson of the same name in present day. The treatment has been shown to improve the quality and length of life by thousands of patients.
Water Controlled Hyperthermia (abbreviated to HHC in Spanish) developed in Mexico
HHC uses water and heat to treat bone cancer. This treatment is especially important, because it allows doctors to treat difficult to access bone cancers without damaging limbs. Furthermore, this usage of selective hyperthermia leads the way to a host of other synergistic effects that benefit cancer patients.
We should follow in Latin America’s footsteps, because cancer treatment relies on innovation, not stagnation
At this time, the only way for an American to receive these life-enhancing procedures is to travel abroad for medical care. Fortunately, medical tourism facilities like Angeles Health provide customized support for international patients seeking treatment, but the United States would do well to make progressive changes in its own healthcare industry as well.
Cancer treatment needs innovation for success. If we are successfully combat this disease, we must first knock down the innovation hurdles that exist in the US nation, so that everyone has access to the same cancer treatment capabilities.