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The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine Vol. 14, 4th Quarter 1999


The Public Reaction to Double-Blind Controlled Clinical Trials

A. HOFFER, M.D., Ph.D.

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The New York Times, October 3,1999, detailed the trials and tribulations of research physicians who were not able to enroll enough patients to proceed with double blind studies, A double-blind controlled therapeutic trial, using treatment, widely used for breast cancer and for ovarian cancer was called off because over 100 medical institutions searching for 2.5 years could not find the 285 patients needed. They found 25. The major issue is whether marrow transplants for treating breast and ovarian cancer are of greater benefit than standard chemotherapy alone. Since 1980 this treatment has been provided by many private and university hospitals even though these double-blind studies had not een completed. This is not a criticism.

The vast majority of medical and surgical treatments have never been put through the double blind procedure. Medical research purists who demand that every new treatment be subjected to this test ought first to examine their own bailiwick and subject their own favorite treatments to the same test and clean up their own field. Recently five double blind experiments were completed and although the results showed that the bone marrow treatment was no better, physicians using the treatment could not admit that it should no longer be used. But the main issue was why patients with breast cancer and other forms of cancer would not allow themselves to be enrolled in these studies.

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