Ever since I can remember there have been a small but vocal contingent of people who hold the belief that the big-time drug companies (Big Pharma as they’re commonly known) are willingly and purposefully withholding cures for various diseases, but most notably cancer. No, not any specific cancer, but “cancer” in general.
First off, cancer isn’t one thing. It’s an umbrella term for a very wide ranging number of diseases that happen to share a few defining characteristics. It may be theoretically possible to treat a very large number of them with a specific therapy (such as halting angiogenesis – blood vessel formation), but since not all cancers act the same way I think it’s impossible to have a “cure for cancer.” If there was one out there it would be decades beyond our current medical technology since we simply don’t have the basic science of cancer understood well enough to form a reliable “cure” for it.
Even more damaging to this idea is the amazing cooperative conspiracy Big Pharma would have to have to be undertaking to keep such an amazing scientific breakthrough under wraps.
But what puts this idea to rest is this: science is all about prestige. Anyone who has spent any time in the academic sciences knows how absolutely ruthless (seriously) people can get about new scientific discoveries. I know loads of people who would disown their families to be a first author on a ground-breaking paper because they know it opens up the scientific world to them. Prestige equals power, money, powerful positions, and authority in science, and everyone wants it. A cure for cancer would be in a class of its own when it comes to scientific accomplishments; instant Nobel prize (along with many other prestigious prizes), any tenured university position you want, the ability to charge tens of thousands of dollars for speaking engagements, becoming top dog in biology, knowing that you’re going to be personally responsible for saving millions of lives, and the inevitable millions of dollars that will be generated by the cure (most will go to the university, but s/he’ll make money off it too). This makes the notion that somehow a cure is out there that is being suppressed by the very scientists who created it is so absurd as to be unbelievable without some form of evidence.
It has been said many times, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If you believe junk such as this then pony over that evidence. Oh, that’s being suppressed too? How convenient…