If you’re researching Cuba you’ve likely seen or heard Cuba’s representatives making statements in the press about Cuba having a cure or vaccine for lung cancer. They’ve been making such statements for years.
Here’s what you need to know.
CimaVax-EGF Cuba’s ‘Cure’ for Lung Cancer
The drug is called CimaVax-EGF and it is still undergoing early stage clinical trials globally. Until the drug has been thoroughly tested and proven to be both safe and effective it cannot be said to work against any of the various types of lung cancers.
Claims surrounding the almost mythological status of CimaVax-EGF typically focus on the US embargo of Cuba. CimaVax-EGF is held up as an example of why the ‘evil’ US should lift its embargo of Cuba.
Proponents of CimaVax-EGF claim the US embargo should be lifted so Cuba can ‘cure’ lung cancer globally and ease suffering. They claim that the US embargo is preventing Cuba from giving the world CimaVax-EGF. And this is not true.
The Correct Process To Prove A Drug Works
No drug can be sold globally in any country until that country’s medicines regulator has reviewed the scientific evidence and clinical trials have been conducted. And the regulators don’t care about where a drug comes from or who made it. They only care about the science.
In the USA the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) must review and approve all new medicines. In Australia it is the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). And every other country has its own regulator.
Now, I’ve worked for the TGA. I can confirm categorically that the TGA doesn’t care where a drug comes from or who made it. As long as it is submitted in the correct way with the necessary scientific evidence the TGA will review that drug for use in Australia.
All medicines are submitted to the TGA through the exact same process. The same process will be applied whether it is Pfizer, Moderna, Novavax, CSL Seqirus or the Cuban Government submitting a new vaccine or drug.
Anyone seeking to claim a drug works and to provide their drug to patients must first submit that drug for review with the necessary evidence to support all claims.
If Cuba wanted to provide CimaVax-EGF to Australians and ‘cure’ lung cancer, it would follow the exact same process of every other drug manufacturer. And they would submit CimaVax-EGF with the necessary supporting evidence for review by the TGA.
CimaVax-EGF Has Not Been Proven Effective
Small scale clinical trials are not sufficient to prove a drug is both safe and effective. Let’s use the drug Cardarine as an example.
Small scale studies on animals and some humans gave the impression Cardarine was a wonder drug with the potential to help treat everything from obesity and diabetes through to cardiovascular disease. It was widely touted as a miracle drug.
Yet later studies revealed that Cardarine caused cancer to develop rapidly in various organs. All research was halted and Cardarine was banned. It’s a Schedule 10 prohibited substance in Australia.
But getting back to CimaVax-EGF the drug may yet prove effective in some individuals. It may eventually be proven to halt the progression of some types of cancer in some patients. But it may also be proven to cause far worse outcomes for those very same patients.
Sufficient scientific evidence has not been collected on CimaVax-EGF and the drug has not been thoroughly tested. It may yet turn out to be unsafe and ineffective. Much like Cardarine.
Claims Of A Cure From Spurious Sources
The developer of CimaVax-EGF is the Cuban Government. One of the larger sources of revenue for the Cuban Government is tobacco products.
With everyone worried about the health consequences of tobacco products, such as lung cancer, it stands to reason that a vaccine against lung cancer benefits tobacco sales.
Claiming to have a vaccine against the negative consequences (lung cancers) of the thing they sell (tobacco) is a lifeline for Cuba’s failing tobacco industry. And all claims must be treated with a high degree of skepticism.
If you’ve never seen the inside of a Cuban hospital or interacted with Cuba’s medical system in Cuba, well, it looks like something straight out of a horror movie. I wouldn’t want to be treated in a Cuban hospital.
The hospital system and medical care in Cuba is characterised by corruption and disrepair. Medical practitioners and other professional workers sell goods and services on Revolico.
In the event you need to access medicines in Cuba your best option is to search Revolico. Cuba’s version of ‘Craigslist’ that is a fully functional black market. You will often find that the medicines missing from the hospitals are being sold on Revolico by hospital workers.
There Are Simpler Problems Cuba Cannot Treat
If Cuba can supposedly ‘cure’ lung cancer and the rest of the world can’t, why can the rest of the world almost eradicate scabies but Cuba can’t? Scabies are endemic in Cuba and a major problem plaguing Cubans daily.
Scabies are little skin burrowing mites. They’re easily treated with simple and cheap over the counter (OTC) medications. Tablets from Argentina that cost less than $1 over the counter will treat a sufferer.
The medication isn’t covered by global patents and even if the drugs were Cuba doesn’t submit to global patents. Cuba could just reproduce the drugs locally and treat all scabies sufferers. These aren’t difficult drugs to make and they aren’t expensive to buy.
Why do scabies sufferers need to pay ridiculous prices of $50 or more on the black market in Cuba for medications to treat scabies? Particularly when every bus, taxi, La Nave or collectivo is a source for acquiring scabies.
Cuba Needs To Stop Making Medical Propaganda And Start Treating Patients
Lots of Cubans are reliant on the kindness of strangers like me carrying medications to Cuba to treat very basic medical conditions. Conditions where the drugs could be easily manufactured in Cuba.
The Cuban Government and its health care system needs to get its priorities straight. It needs to start treating Cubans instead of making spurious claims and spouting propaganda.
Cuba’s representatives are correct, access to medications and medical care is a human right. And it is the Cuban Governments responsibility to ensure those human rights are granted for its own citizens. Such as ensuring Cuban citizens have access to scabies meds and aren’t plagued by other easily treatable medical conditions.
I find it absurd that a country where speaking out about government failures can result in prison sentences claims human rights are being violated by other countries not allowing the export of its unproven drugs with spurious claims such as CimaVax-EGF.
In Australia we have a common saying, ‘put up or shut up’. And I would apply that to Cuba. If Cuba wants to claim human rights it needs to provide human rights to its own citizens first.
Blaming adverse medical outcomes for its citizens on the US embargo does naught for the people of Cuba. If the Cuban Government can bring in shipping containers filled with Belgian, Portuguese, Spanish and various other beers, there’s no reason they can’t import shipping containers filled with basic medications for their own people.
The Cuban Government can import container ships filled with materials to build and furnish new hotels. So there’s no reason the Cuban Government can’t import the basic equipment and resources necessary to manufacture the medications most needed in Cuba.
If Cuba wants to claim its CimaVax-EGF works it needs to produce the relevant scientific evidence and submit the drug through the correct pathways for review by global medical regulators. And if Cuba wants to claim human rights it needs to first provide human rights to its own citizens.
Cuba needs to stop with the medical propaganda and start treating its own citizens first.
Where Can I Get More Information About Cuba?
I’ve made a Cuba Frequently Asked Questions Page (FAQ) available on this website. And I would strongly advise you to read it before travelling to Cuba.
My Cuba FAQ page will save you a lot of time and a significant amount of money on your trip to Cuba. Cuba is not the sort of destination in which you can just arrive unprepared.
Read the Cuba FAQ Page here.