Cuba unveils new lung cancer vaccine

Cuba unveils new lung cancer vaccine June 26, 2008

Here’s a story for those among us who uncritically accept as a truism that capitalist medicine automatically results in innovation while more humane health care systems automatically result in lower quality care. This just in, from

Cuban scientists said on Tuesday the first vaccine to extend lives of lung cancer patients has been approved by Cuban authorities for use and is available in the island’s hospitals.

The drug, CimaVax EGF, has been shown to increase survival rates on average four to five months and much longer in some patients, they said in a news conference at Cuba’s Center of Molecular Immunology. In contrast to chemotherapy, the traditional treatment for lung cancer, they said CimaVax EGF has few side effects because it is a modified protein that attacks only cancer cells. They said it was the first lung cancer vaccine to be approved anywhere in the world, although there are others currently being tested. “It’s the first vaccine for lung cancer registered in the world,” said Gisela Gonzalez, who headed the development of the vaccine, begun in 1992. The drug is in various stages of clinical trials in a number of other countries and is most likely to be approved next in Peru, where it could be publicly available by year’s end, Gonzalez said.


“It’s possible to provide this vaccine to any patient, because it’s available in Cuba, it’s approved by the Cuban drug agency so we can market the vaccine in Cuba and we can receive patients from outside,” she said. The exception would probably be Americans, she said, who are restricted from Cuba travel by the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba in place since 1962. “Even though there is a new therapeutic tool approved in Cuba they probably wouldn’t be able to come to Cuba to receive it because of the embargo,” Crombet said. The drug has been approved for clinical trial in the United States, but its possible use there is at least two to three years away, Gonzalez said.

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  • I don’t think the claim has ever been that innovation outside of a capitalist system is impossible.

    Also the existence of this new vaccine doesn’t say anything about the quality of the health care in Cuba – not sure why you would suggest that.

  • SB

    It’s quite a straw man you pose there; neither Blackadder nor anyone else has ever said that scientists in socialised countries will never invent or discover anything whatsoever, or that all innovations must come from capitalist societies. Your story also points out that “several private companies had been licensed to market the vaccine” — capitalism! Quel horror!

  • Stopped clock?

  • The superior potential for innovation is one of the foundational assumptions of capitalism in general, as well as the argument in favor of capitalist medicine. Straw man? If you say so.

  • blackadderiv

    It is still an open question whether or not this drug even works, but even if it does, the fact that a communist country is able to produce a single new drug treatment hardly shows that capitalism isn’t more conducive to innovation.

  • JH

    That is true Blackadderiv. It is not like people that advoate the benefits of the Free market did not recognize that even the Soviet Union could do a few things in the Space Race

  • Gerald Augustinus

    I’m waiting for an outraged VN post about the Supreme Court’s 2nd Amendment decision. You’re slacking, people! Contrary to what you might believe, I didn’t just pet my .45 in celebration. I blew kisses at it. ;o)

  • Contrary to what you might believe, I didn’t just pet my .45 in celebration. I blew kisses at it. ;o)

    Amazing what Republicans can accomplish through the Supreme Court when they are motivated, eh?

  • M.Z. Forrest

    I believe Mornings Minion might address it, but he has to get back from the firing range first.

  • JH

    Zippy that is true. Also as I pointed out on that other thread there are lesson Pro-lifers can learn from the 2nd Amendment folks. Of course the 2nd Amendment victory also is the result from help of good democrats too

  • SB

    The superior potential for innovation is one of the foundational assumptions of capitalism in general, as well as the argument in favor of capitalist medicine.

    It is unintelligent to suppose that an anecdote even counts as a counterexample to the above belief, let alone refutes it.

  • No more gun fondling in this thread. If you guys (and I mean “guys”) want to pet each other pieces, do it somewhere else.

  • Mark DeFrancisis


    They do so as the put on the Beatles’ White Album and all wait for that special song of theirs, for their warm consummation-blisses.


  • Leah

    The primary criticism that I have towards Cuba’s health care system is that it’s incredibly uneven, even by our standards. There are world-class clinics for the Party elites and for Western tourists, while regular people are stuck in roach infested hovels. Surgeons often lack the most basic supplies (e.g., aspirin, latex gloves, antibiotics) to treat their patients. Our health care system is certainly broken, but I don’t think the answer lies in emulating Cuba.

  • Who said anything about “emulating” Cuba? Who suggested that Cuba’s system is beyond critique?

  • SB

    Oh, so you ARE sensitive to a strawman characterization of someone’s position.

  • SB – When a strawman characterization is indeed made, then yes I am.

  • SB

    The terms “uncritically,” and “truism,” and “automatically” in your post are strawman thinking.

  • RR

    The Soviets had superior rocket technology therefore communism must be the answer to all our problems!

  • RR – Who said anything about communism?