Breast cancer: this disputed clinic that provides experimental treatments at a price

Among patients with cancer breast triple X circulates the name of a small German clinic, near the Black Forest, the Hallwang clinic. Experimental treatments are provided there at full price. Patients have sold their homes to gain access, others are launching jackpots on the Internet. Invoices can easily reach five zeros.

Philippe Amiel, vice-president of the Ethics and Cancer Committee, observes: “We were seized by several oncologists. It’s not a clinic that sells weird treatments, it’s more complicated. They provide access to inaccessible immunotherapies, but in appalling financial conditions for patients. “

The Committee will soon issue an opinion on the use of “Hallwang-type” clinics. If we do not know the details, he asks the questions of the cost and the lack of evaluation of treatments, the clinic evolving on the sidelines of clinical studies. The site of the establishment, that doesn’t just treat breast cancer, is full of positive testimonials.

“The problem is opacity”

Some patients for whom immunology treatments seem to have been effective were then able to benefit from them in France, on a “compassionate” basis. 1 (in the medical sense of the term and therefore free). Finally, some of these treatments. To the known immunotherapy products (but often used outside the current indications), the clinic adds a more mysterious “homemade” vaccine therapy, with injections to be repeated every three or six months. The concept of combining immunotherapy and vaccine is not entirely exotic. But there is no convincing clinical trial in the scientific literature. If Hallwang succeeds in therapeutic advances, not sharing them is at least an ethical fault.

“Research is groping to find solutions for these often young women, but the problem with this clinic is opacity, estimates Prof. Mahasti Saghatchian, head of the oncology department at the American Hospital in Paris. Immunotherapy is not clearly reimbursed for these cancers. Faced with this, these women turn to Hallwang, who presents immunotherapy as a Grail. What it is not quite or in any case not for everyone. “

Some convinced scientists

Karine (she prefers not to mention her name), one of these patients whose cancer is controlled, is pragmatic: “We sign a discharge and we have access to drugs that we could not have obtained because we are not in the nails of a clinical trial. ” She herself had been excluded from a promising trial in France, because of heart problems. “All I was offered then was chemo until I died. “

Professor Claude Malvy, an eminent biochemist, is one of the few scientific voices convinced by the Hallwang protocols. His wife is still alive five years after the discovery of metastasized uterine cancer. He says he has counted “Four remissions” unexpected among French patients but also “ from sometimes rapid deaths ”, because, he recognizes, “We know that immuno does not work for everyone. “ His wife is receiving immunotherapy treatment in France. She returns to Hallwang every six months for a peptide vaccine shot “Personalized”.

The minimum of control

A clinic like Hallwang (there are others in Germany) could not exist in France. The more flexible legislation across the Rhine, the disconnection of the establishment from the conventional health system (it mainly welcomes foreigners) means that this for-profit clinic operates with the minimum of control.

Where do his conventional medicines come from or not? Why is it not participating in research advances? To our questions and to the request for an interview with its main oncologist, the Hallwang Clinic returned a long letter of refusal, extolling unlimited access to the most cutting-edge therapies and its legal actions against articles it deems defamatory.

1 Compassionate access to treatment is aimed at two distinct cases which have in common the fact that it concerns a medicinal product making it possible to treat patients suffering from diseases without appropriate treatment, in a given therapeutic indication without it being intended to obtain a marketing authorization in France.

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