DCA being sold on internet

A while back there was thread about the drug DCA (dichloroacetate) which has been found to have successful anti cancer properties in laboratory trials on rodents. Dr Michelakis at the University of Alberta is leading the human trials on the drug.

However there’s a front page news item in the Guardian this morning about the drug beng manufactred and distributed on the internet without proper trials. The people marketing this drug believe that those with terminal cancer should be allowed to take whatever risks they choose in taking drugs which have not got through tests, while the generally accepted medical view is that patients should only take calculated risks within the context of controlled clinical trials. There are also two doctors in Canada offering DCA at their clinic in Toronto…they have been criticised by other doctors and regulatory bodies.

When the original results on DCA were published I thought they looked very promising…though of course there are thousands of research papers each year which appear to show good results for new drugs in rodents but then fall by the wayside once they are tested on humans.

I think the news that this drug is being sold on the internet highlights how unscrupulous people will exploit desperate cancer patients at their most vulnerable…but it also highlights the (inevitable or not?) slowness of the research process in getting new drugs onto the market safely.

How desperate are we allowed to be?..at what point should we as cancer patients draw a line and acknowledge that the drugs of the future which might cure those who come after us are not here for those of us with advanced cancer today?

The current story is about DCA but it could be about many other drugs of the future.


Hi Jane,

It was sold on the internet very soon after the story broken, although ostensibly as a veterinary medicine for people whose animals had cancer.

The trial was approved in September as a phase I trial (to check for safety in cancer patients).
Here is the info I collected from the US government website clinicaltrials.gov (as a US federal government website this is in the public domain):
The trial is still recruiting.
Estimated Enrollment: 30
Study Start Date: December 2007
Estimated Study Completion Date: December 2008
Estimated Primary Completion Date: November 2008 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)

So, at best they might announce the results in December at San Antonio, but even that is pushing it a bit.

Yes, it is amazing how slow things are. The vaccine I was interested in four years ago when I finished treatment (an anti-her2 vaccine to prevent recurrence) is not on the market yet, even though it seems to halve recurrence in patients with a particular additional trait that makes the cancer particularly aggressive.

The question of how desperate one should be is a difficult one. Sometimes there is a big breakthrough, but the difficulty is separating out the hope from the hype. Is there any convincing evidence that DCA has been working for anyone taking it outside the trial?

If you look at thedcasite.com/index.html there are various articles and testimonies regarding DCA. It would appear that there has been some success using DCA but usually in conjuction with traditional chemo so not really possible to tell which drug has been doing the work.