Monday, September 08, 2008

But not in Basel

Monique Doyle Spencer's article about the use of henna to counteract the hand-foot syndrome that is a side effect of the Xeloda cancer drug continues to make the rounds around the world. Here it is in the Khaleej Times from the United Arab Emirates. And here it is on a blog that I think emanates from Estonia.

But it hasn't seemed to make any impression in Basel.


Anonymous said...

OK I get the point, and I am one who already sent this to a friend who has a cancer support group, but what's up with repeatedly tweaking Roche? Others have explained why no comment from them is likely. Besides, they certainly wouldn't be the first unresponsive bureaucracy in the world, including many in hospitals.


Paul Levy said...

Why is no comment from them likely? Let's say they didn't want to address the merits of the henna remedy for some set of legal reasons. Perhaps, at a minimum, they could explain why it is difficult for them to comment on this type of topic. Or perhaps they could explain what would be required before they would be permitted to comment on the merits of this kind of remedy.

Monique and I are not asking them to admit that there is any undisclosed problem with their product. Indeed, this side effect is displayed in their material. Here we have a proposed remedy to that side effect that make it more likely that people would be able to take the full course of the drug. If you were making that drug, wouldn't you have an interest in promoting an exploration of that remedy?

Here's an example of a noncommittal type of comment they could make. "We have read with interest the materials about the possible use of henna as a remedy to one of the side effects of Xeloda. Since we have not conducted experiments on its usage in this setting, we can offer no conclusions as to its efficacy. We would, of course, be interested in the results of such experiments."

Here's an example of a more committed response. Add to the above, "If scientific proof of henna's efficacy in this setting is established, we will do our best to promulgate this information to doctors prescribing this drug so that the patients who have the side effect might be able to benefit from that information."

Maybe you are right, though, and we are expecting too much. But, given the poor image that drug companies have, here is a chance for this company to display empathy with those patients who have this side effect.

Katrin said...

This is from Estonia and in Estonian, yes. :)

Hennaleht (mean both - henna leaf and henna page. 'leht' stands as for leaf and for page.) said...

I think you don't expect too much, you deserve it

nasov said...

Because of the broad reach of Paul Levy's blog, I've noticed that every time he brings it up, more people hear about henna. Send your annoyance to Roche - what company does not respond to a customer?

Anonymous said...

I guess my feeling is that, arguably, the important part - dissemination of this information to maximum numbers of patients - has already been accomplished. There are more important issues to care about now rather than how, or whether, the company itself responds.