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Dog dewormer goes out of stock amid rumor of efficacy for cancerTop 10 medical news in 2019 ① 
  • By Kim Eun-young
  • Published 2019.12.26 12:31
  • Updated 2019.12.27 10:31
  • comments 0

As an online video claiming that dog dewormer fenbendazole could cure cancer went viral, cancer patients conducted “voluntary clinical trials,” trying the canine treatment on themselves in desperate hope. The medical industry had significant legal issues, including the Constitutional Court’s ruling that the 66-year-old anti-abortion law was unconstitutional. Hospitals suffered the worst shortage of physicians this year. The sudden death of Yoon Han-deok, chief of the National Emergency Medical Center, who died of a heart attack at his office, and a patient’s murder of Lim Se-won, a psychiatrist at Kanguk Samsung Hospital, have cast light on doctors’ overwork and safety issues. Amid the controversy over the appointment of Cho Kuk as the minister of justice, his daughter’s being listed as the lead author in a paper published in a medical journal during her high school time became the center of the controversy. Korea Biomedical Review has compiled the 10 biggest medical stories in 2019. —Ed.

Radiology oncologist Kim Ja-young uploaded a YouTube video on Oct. 7, explaining how to take fenbendazole. (Photo captured on YouTube)

After a YouTube video claimed fenbendazole, a dog deworming drug, cured a U.S. terminal cancer patient, and hit several million views, cancer patients around the world rushed to buy the parasiticide.

In Korea, fenbendazole briefly went out of stock after comedian Kim Chul-min said in his YouTube channel that his symptoms significantly improved while fighting against the stage-four lung cancer.

As several doctors and healthcare professionals said fenbendazole could play an ideal role as an anticancer drug, cancer patients did not pay much attention to the warning from the government and the medical groups that they should restrain from taking the canine anthelmintic medication due to concerns for side effects.

A man in a video on the YouTube channel, named “Dr. Ezra Hangjun Jang Internal Medicine” introduced himself as an American internal medicine specialist who earned a doctoral degree in chemistry from New York University. He encouraged cancer patients to demand the government lead a study to develop fenbendazole into an anticancer drug.

“A Nature paper in 2018 summarized the anticancer effect of fenbendazole in three points. First, fenbendazole was effective in killing cancer cells by inhibiting microtubules and preventing cancer cells from proliferating,” Jang said in the video. “Second, it has a molecular function to avoid multi-pharmaceutical resistance. Third, it inhibits sugar metabolism.”

Jang also said albendazole and mebendazole, which have a similar chemical structure to fenbendazole, could have an anti-cancer effect.

Radiology oncologist Kim Ja-young claimed on her YouTube channel that it was safe to take fenbendazole and explained how cancer patients should take fenbendazole in detail. The video has caused controversy in the medical community.

For a patient with rapidly progressing and multiple metastatic cancer, she recommended taking fenbendazole 222mg four times a day for three weeks, taking 222mg for once or twice a day after the third week, and giving a break for four days.

However, the Korean Medical Association (KMA), the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, and the Korean Society of Medical Oncology (KSMO) advised patients against taking fenbendazole, citing concerns of unpredictable side effects.

The KMA said physicians could understand how progressive cancer patients and their families were desperate to take any measure if it has a little bit of chance to fight cancer.

However, a few cases of curing cancer with fenbendazole is weak evidence because they are based on personal experiences that have not been objectively validated through a group comparison in a clinical study, the medical group said.

The KSMO recommended discontinuation of deworming drugs, citing cases where a patient came to the emergency room due to intestinal necrosis after taking such medicine.

The food and drug safety ministry also emphasized that cancer patients must not take fenbendazole, saying the drug was authorized only for animals. It was improper for cancer patients to use unauthorized medicines for humans, as the regulator approves a drug that proved its safety and efficacy in strictly controlled clinical trials, it added.

key@docdocdoc.co.kr

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