To China For a U.S. Cancer Drug? – Ariana Eunjung Cha
The Washington Post reports on a controversial new cancer drug that has not yet been approved for use in the U.S., but is being used by some Americans who get treatment in China, where it was developed. A dispute has also broken out between American and Chinese drug makers over the patent for the medicine:
The dispute is the latest clash between the two countries in the broad field known as intellectual property. China in recent decades has prospered largely because of a talent for copying. The country duplicates goods others created but figures out how to make them more cheaply….
The dispute over the gene-therapy drug is especially revealing in that scientific innovation is a pillar of American business. If other countries can learn to beat the United States to market with drugs and other technologically advanced goods, that could spell economic trouble in America.
…Meanwhile, the drug is beginning to transform the way cancer patients are treated in China, offering an alternative to traditional treatments with harsh side effects, such as surgery and chemotherapy. As of last month, more than 5,000 patients had been treated with the drug.
Weissenborn, 64, has traveled to Beijing three times to receive the Chinese gene-therapy treatment. He’s a believer in the drug and is angry it is not available in the United States. [Full text]