Study: 1/3 of chemo is used off-label without FDA approval


When a chemotherapy drug is approved for cancer treatment by the FDA, it is approved to treat a specific type of cancer. And some drugs are FDA approved for use on multiple types of cancer. That’s fairly easy to understand.

But here’s the bombshell…

Researchers have discovered that about one-third of chemotherapies are used to treat cancers that the FDA never approved them to treat, according to a new study led by Rena Conti, an assistant professor of health policy and economics at the University of Chicago.

Once a drug is approved by the FDA, the pharmaceutical companies have their “foot in the door”.

Then the drug companies can produce  their own biased reports and studies and lobby through organizations like the National Comprehensive Care Network (NCCN), and their own drug reps to convince oncologists to prescribe these drugs for cancers they are not approved to treat.

Conti is not accusing anyone, but notes that some researchers have criticized NCCN recommendations, because of possible delays in guidelines based on the latest data, and possible conflicts of interests.

Conflict of interest?  Surely not…

Why would the drug companies want their drugs to be used off-label?
Because the more cancers a drug is used to treat, the more profitable that drug becomes.

It always boils down to money. There is more money to be made “treating” cancer than curing it.

In 2010, the total cost of chemo drugs was $12 billion. $4.5 billion was spent on these controversial off-label chemotherapies, and $2.5 billion of that was for uses that even the NCCN did not support.

Opponents of nutrition and natural therapies for cancer like to get on their high horses about how chemotherapy is “evidence-based medicine” because it’s approved by the FDA. Therefore everything else is quackery.

So let me ask you, when 30% of chemotherapies are prescribed off-label, outside of their intended use, on cancers they have not been approved to treat, where is the evidence!

If you still think off-label drug use is a good idea, try spraying some Tinactin athletes foot spray up your nose next time you get a cold. Let me know how that works out. I’m exaggerating of course.

Who wants to be the next guinnea pig?

When doctors use chemotherapy off-label they are experimenting on their patients with little to no evidence that these toxic drugs will have any benefit to the patient whatsoever. And the truly sad thing is that many late-stage cancer patients are so ill-informed and so desperate that they will agree to anything.

“The main criticism of off-label prescribing has been the concern that it jeopardizes patient safety because the full risk-benefit ratio is often not completely understood,” – Dr. Monika Krzyzanowska.

“To me it’s a little troubling that so many drugs are given in areas where there is not a lot of data to back it up,” said Dr. Nancy Keating, a cancer researcher not involved with this study.

This post is a summary of a Reuters article by Andrew Seaman, with my comments added.
You can read his full article here.


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  • Cindy

    Another reason to avoid chemo therapy…

    • Just Me

      Hi Cindy,

      I concur with your statement.

  • Sid

    Unfortuntely I did about 6 treatments. Thats when my education started…learning everything to protect my cells etc to prevent from coming back going on 6 years now..I had 87% of it coming back the first year…taking lots of things now especially essential fatty acids
    omega 6/3 more 6 than 3, but still need a little of the 3…

  • john wilson

    The athlete’s foot analogy is rather crass, that’s not a fatal disease. If they’ve tried the approved drugs for your cancer with no success, and you’re going to die, wouldn’t you want to try out some other chemo drugs that medical professionals think might have a chance of saving your life?

    • Just Me


      With all due respect, my answer to your question is ‘no’. Chemo does more damage than I am willing to risk and although I was diagnosed a Stage Four two weeks ago, chemo will never be an option for me.

      The change in diet and recognition of the the health issues that contributed to this are the areas I will be focusing on.

      Interesting question though.

  • Shari


    First, chemo is curative in less than 10% of all cancers. In fact, chemo treatments, on average, prolong life by a mere 6 months. That’s not adding QUALITY of life, just 6 months of feeling sick and exhausted. Many people are actually acquiring new cancers FROM their chemo treatments (Robin Roberts and Larry Hagman as examples). My friend had a very aggressive form of chemo for her endometrial cancer and the treatment ended up giving her a permanent and progressive form of chemo brain that killed off the myelin cells in her brain, ultimately killing her with what looked like a fast acting form of Alzeimers. The doctor finally admitted that it was a “rare” reaction to the chemo. I’m not so sure about the rarity of this reaction.

    I lost both parents to cancer (in their 50’s), have a sister with stage IV cancer that has just come back again after 2 full rounds of chemo and one of radiation and a brother that has nerve damage from radiation treatments to his face and is given a prognosis of one year.

    Chemo rarely saves lives. If someone had chemo treatments and is in remission, it’s due to the curative nature of the surgery. They’re also finding that chemo has this rebound effect. Cancer becomes even more virulent with each round of chemo and can actually grow faster after chemo than if the patient had no chemo at all.

    I agree that the analogy was inappropriate, but that’s the only thing we can agree upon.

  • barb

    I have a youtube of an EX-drug sales rep. He stated *ON AIR, while in training it would have a 6% response rate of one of the drugs, but somehow we played with the numbers and we’d go out to the doctors offices and we’d talk about a 30% response rate, a 40% response rate and the way they finagled the numbers they made it look that way. And doctors will fight tooth and nail and say this is scientific and we were the ones that knew that it really wasn’t in our opinion, the best out there.”
    So it’s the chemo makers LYING to the DOCTORS to sell it to ill patients knowing it just will not work. Sad. And they are making how many trillions with these lies?

    Give a watch: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0KjPGu0VvJc

  • Jenni

    Thanks for continuing to get this info out, Chris! It’s amazing to see how individual people can actually think for themselves when given the info to consider. I respectfully don’t agree with John who posted above, but how wonderful that we are all thinking and pondering the facts and then able to make informed decisions for ourselves without having to rely on the questionable “objectivity” of the medical establishment. Kudos to you for keeping up with your site and the latest studies. Thank you!

  • going to goa blog

    Congratualtions on beating it. We think Scott’s 9 months of oral chemo four years ago taken for stage2 small intestine rare cancer detroyed his immune system and may have something to do with now stage 4 terminal stomach cancer. Ya think? Anyway he wasn’t going to go thru that hell again so we came to India. Oddly, he had 22 lbs of ascites fluid drained here and we all, including oncologists, thought ascites would return. It has been 7 weeks and so far no ascites. There is just so much we don’t know. Why not err towards positivism rather than cynicism. The doctors are not gods.

  • Emily

    Yes, some people are willing to be used as guinea pigs because they are dying of cancer. These off label uses are frequently people’s only hope. It’s not necessarily the pharmaceutical companies pushing their products, it is patients and doctors who will do everything in their power to offer these life saving treatments that would not normally be available.

    While I think that juicing is a fantastic way to support one’s body during life in general and during a battle with cancer, you are encouraging people to forgo chemotherapy without having any actual proof that juicing will cure cancer in more than just you. I want to congratulate you for living such a healthy lifestyle and for beating cancer, but some people reading this blog WILL DIE if they take your advice and forgo chemo. Anyone battling cancer should talk to doctors or other practitioners at their cancer centers…many are receptive to alternative/complimentary therapy.

    Like this…http://cancer.stanford.edu/patient_care/services/nutrition/recipes/juicingRecipes.html

    • Emily

      Reading more of the above comments, I do also understand juicing and alternative therapies (without chemo) when a cure is very unlikely or a patient just doesn’t want to go through it….I just don’t want a young person in the same situation with decades of life to be lived to think that because juicing cured your cancer, it will cure theirs.

      • Emily thanks for your comments, but you’ve misunderstood my story and the purpose of this site.
        Juicing doesn’t cure cancer and neither does chemo.
        The body is designed to heal itself. It can and will if given the proper nutrients and care.
        Juicing is one of the best ways to support the body nutritionally
        and give it the nutrients it needs to detoxify, repair and regenerate.

        Also chemotherapy is only 2.1% effective on average toward 5 year survival for cancer.
        This was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
        You can read the study here:


  • Tuesday

    Hi Chris, found your site at Vitamin Shoppe. You are so right about Chemo. I have watched several people die from various cancers recently. They all took Chemo. I have worked in the medical field for years and can tell you first hand that it is all about the money! My theory on cancer is that all the toxins we are exposed to each day, in food, cleaners, water, are leading to an increase of cancer. How to fight it? Total change in environment and food. A great book to read {The Hundred Year Lie}. Gives stats on disease increase after fluoride being added to our water, pesticides approved for our food, etc. No one is protecting us in the Gov.!! Movie to watch {The Blue Butterfly}. Young man with terminal cancer went to Mexico Rain Forest and was cured. Why? Complete change in water, food, and environment! Not because he saw a butterfly. Also, Google {Dr. Budwig’s cancer diet}. Great info. Keep up this site, so many need it. Thank you.

  • Josee

    We just got the news that our dear friend has one week left. Too bad, just way too bad that people don’t know better. His sister is the lead doctor of the cancer department of that hospital on top if it! I don’t know what to say…I’m so upset. Please people take care of yourselves.

  • Ran

    Chemo is effective against some cancers, must be said! However it´s nearly useless against others, like Melanoma, still in my case 1 doctor (out of many) suggested it. 2 stated clearly to me that it has no effect, and the other said nearly no effect at all.
    I have stage III Melanoma, went through surgery, radiation, and started immunotherapy but had to quit that. At the same time I have been eating “cancer fighting foods” like broccoli, red cabbage, curcumin etc. Too early to say the outcome, but now 1 year after discovery, I am now cancer free at the moment, a few though years to go, but I hope that the food and things I do keeps me alive.

  • GeNae

    I would like to tell you guys some thing that happened to one of my chemo bags. One night when I was awake they were giving me one of the medicens and it cristylized inside the bag and I did not notice thank goodness the nurce was there and noticed it before it did any harm.

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