Monique Doyle Spencer shared with me a letter she received after writing her recent op-ed about the potential value of henna in ameliorating side effects of an important cancer drug. I reprint it with permission of the author:
I was very interested in "Anybody Want a Zillion-Dollar Cure Idea" (Globe Op Ed 8/1/08). My twin brother was diagnosed with colon cancer and was also put on chemotherapy using Xeloda. He suffered mightily with the same side effects as Ms. Spencer. We constantly asked "Can't something be done to relieve this torture?" After four years of suffering, he died last May. It is sad to know that the drug company could have conducted a study of this simple antidote or noted on their website the relief that some people had received. Shame on Roche Pharmaceuticals and the industry.
When I wrote about this below, at least one commenter suggested that it would be difficult for Roche or a similarly situated pharmaceutical company to make recommendations about this or another antidote, citing legal and regulatory issues. I don't know enough of the law to address that. I also have to assume that the response Monique received to her queries never made it up the full chain of command in the company and so might not have been reflective of the view of senior management. So to be fair about all of this, I am going to do my best in the next few days to contact my CEO counterpart at the company and make him aware of all this and see if he is interested having some of his folks brainstorm with our people and others like Monique about how to get the word out or do more research on this matter.