Times' series discredits efforts to cure cancer
Special to The Times
Cell Therapeutics, Inc. is extremely dismayed over the portrayal in The Seattle Times ("Uninformed Consent" series, March 10-14) of some of the events and people associated with the clinical trials conducted at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The real tragedy of this report, however, is that some patients and their families believed that they somehow placed their loved ones in harm's way.
Most patients decide to participate in clinical trials when all hope for a cure with traditional therapies is not available. Without the results from trials such as these, advances in clinical medicine could not be possible. As a result of pioneering work conducted in this manner, Dr. E. Donnall Thomas was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine in 1990. This was the first time this prestigious honor was bestowed for clinical research, underscoring the impact of the Center's work on patients' lives throughout the world.
At Cell Therapeutics, our priority is the patient. We are reminded daily when treating patients with cancer, that there is not a life or a moment to lose, and all of our corporate decisions are guided by this very important principle. We are concerned that The Times' article may mislead cancer patients to the extent that they will be unwilling to participate in potential life-saving clinical trials. Because of that, we feel strongly that we need to state our position in response to The Seattle Times.
We stand behind our colleagues at The Hutch. Their noble mission is to stamp out cancer. In 1980, Congress had the foresight to enact the Bayh-Dole act so that the American people can directly benefit from the research conducted at leading centers such as The Hutch. With the recent deciphering of the human genome, research centers throughout the country will find new mechanisms underlying major diseases that affect the lives of tens of millions of Americans each year. From that research, biopharmaceutical companies like Cell Therapeutics will translate those discoveries into new drugs to make cancer more treatable.
Washington state has a long and proud heritage of contributing not only to the advance of scientific and medical knowledge, but in bringing novel treatments and therapies to millions of patients around the world. In the 20-plus years since its inception, the biomedical/biotechnology industry in this state has brought numerous life-saving products to patients and their health-care providers. From treating arthritis to preventing heart disease and curing certain forms of leukemia, our loved ones have directly benefited from these "homegrown" discoveries.
If it were not for the cutting-edge research conducted at centers such as the Fred Hutchinson Research Cancer Center, and the vision of the entrepreneurs who took the risk of translating that science into novel therapies to save lives, then people everywhere would not enjoy the health and longevity that results.
We are dismayed that The Seattle Times has decided to develop a story that is incomplete, inaccurate and a discredit to the public and private organizations that are fighting the battle to cure cancer.
James A. Bianco, M.D., is president and CEO of Cell Therapeutics, Inc.