DCA government warning

28 Apr 2008

UK government warning over DCA

Cancer patients are at risk from an unproven 'cure' (dicholoracetate) manufactured by a pest-control company in the US and marketed over the internet, the UK government has been told.

Dr Ian Gibson, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on cancer, is reported in the Guardian to have warned that increasing numbers of British patients are risking the final months of their lives taking the chemical DCA, believing it to be a cure for cancer.

Jim Tassano, who runs a pest-control business in California, began manufacturing DCA and selling it over his website as a treatment for the disease after two scientists at the University of Alberta, Canada, published results of tests on rats. The research suggested that the chemical decreased the size of tumours while leaving healthy tissue unaffected.

Dr Ian Gibson MP has warned against untried cancer 'cures'. Dr Evangelos Michelakis, whose work led to the the controversy, is yet to begin trials on humans. He criticised Mr Tassano's enterprise and compared him to a drug dealer, adding that a patient could be killed if they use DCA unsupervised.

Mr Tassano recommends the drug, which he sells in powdered form, be taken with coffee. However Toronto GP Dr Akhbar Khan, who prescribes DCA through his clinic, says this approach has resulted in death for some brain cancer patients.

According to reports in the Guardian, Dr Gibson said the number of people in Britain buying DCA is on the increase.

He said: "I'm calling for these websites to be researched by the Department of Health and closed down instantly.

"We need to start a campaign to get the message out there that these sites are no good. If need be, we should be talking to the cancer institutes and charities in America to see what pressure they can bring to have the sites closed.

"But it's a very difficult thing to do. People will always turn to sites like these when they are desperate, so we need to make sure they know the facts."

Cancer Research UK and Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Authority, which has successfully closed down UK-based websites selling the drug, have both strongly recommended against using DCA.