After fatal cancer therapies: criticism of the entire naturopathic profession

After fatal cancer therapies: criticism of the entire naturopathic profession

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Alternative cancer therapy after the death of three patients under discussion
Three cancer patients died after alternative medical treatment. The patients were treated with the preparation "3-bromopyruvate". The use of the product is not inadmissible, but it is controversial. It is not yet clear whether the preparation caused the cancer patients' death. The naturopathic association asks its members not to look for loopholes in the law, but to always work legally.

Three patients died after questionable treatment
At the end of July, three patients died after questionable treatment in an alternative cancer center in the Lower Rhine village of Brüggen-Bracht. Although there is no evidence that the alternative practitioner who worked at the facility intentionally caused the death of the patients, the public prosecutor is now investigating the practice owner for negligent killing. The investigators are apparently concentrating on the treatment ingredient "3-bromopyruvate".

Administration of the controversial preparation is not prohibited
As reported by the "Westdeutscher Rundfunk" (WDR), the public prosecutor's office in Krefeld explained at a press conference that the alternative practitioner was not allowed to give the preparation "3-bromopyruvate" (3-BP). In addition, there has so far been no proven link between the deaths after treatment in the practice of the naturopath in Brüggen-Bracht (district of Viersen) and the preparation administered during therapy. The Krefeld chief prosecutor Axel Stahl said that it was not clear whether the death after cancer therapy was due to the preparation.

Investigation after the death of a Dutch woman
The investigation is about five cases; three times for the charge of negligent homicide and twice for negligent assault. Currently, two patients are still receiving medical treatment after life-threatening complaints. The investigation was triggered by the death of a 43-year-old woman from the Netherlands. She died in a hospital in Mönchengladbach on July 30 after being treated in the facility on July 25. Before her death, she complained of a headache, was confused at times, and was ultimately no longer available.

There may be something wrong with the active ingredient
According to the WDR, the investigators are primarily targeting the administered drug: "There is a working thesis that something was wrong with the active ingredient," said Chief Prosecutor Axel Stahl. The batch of the substance may have been contaminated or incorrectly dosed. "3-bromopyruvate is an experimental active ingredient that is used in tumor therapy worldwide," explained Stahl.

According to the information, the accused alternative practitioner "essentially denied that something went wrong". The sources of supply for the said preparation led to other European countries. According to Stahl, relationships that the alternative practitioner had with a German pharmacy were also part of the investigation. In the practice in Brüggen-Bracht in the German-Dutch border area, people from the Benelux countries were mainly treated.

Cancer center regrets patient's death
Alternative therapy has been discussed since the case became known. The cancer center itself published a statement after the first death, in which the patient's death was regretted, but also the fact that "alternative medicine, and especially our clinic, could be held responsible for the death of one of our patients".

Information about alternative healing methods
Health experts point out that biological cancer therapy is by no means a therapy that can be seen as an “alternative”. Any additional therapy must be done in consultation with the treating doctor. Information on alternative healing methods for cancer can be found on the online platform of the complementary medicine in oncology competence network (KOKON). The project is funded by the German Cancer Aid.

The experts write on the website: "The active ingredients and treatment methods used in complementary medicine encompass a very broad spectrum: They range from dietary supplements and vitamins, through dietary recommendations, phytotherapeutics and organ extracts, medical devices and pharmaceuticals, technical and biotechnological processes , up to psychological, spiritual methods and complex treatment procedures of foreign cultures. Many of these processes are already well known, while others are not. ”

Restrictions on treatments by alternative practitioners
In connection with the deaths, calls for restrictions on treatment by alternative practitioners have also been heard. For example, the President of the North Rhine Medical Association, Rudolf Henke, of the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” (FAZ) said that he “does not consider it justifiable that alternative practitioners take over the treatment of cancer patients”. In his opinion, one had to “completely rethink the regulations of the alternative practitioner system”.

Naturopathic Association calls for lawful action
The incidents in Brüggen-Bracht, which have allegedly led to the death of patients, are, according to the Association of German Naturopaths, "not only tragic, but a great suffering for the relatives, which cannot be made good". If the allegations against the practitioner turn out to be fully correct, this would be “a deliberate wrongdoing that damages the entire profession.” However, it would be "an isolated case, as naturopaths work as a whole as responsibly as other health care professions, maybe a little bit more carefully". This is borne out by “extremely low damage rates in professional liability insurance”, which is very significantly below the rate in other professions. The association demands that all naturopaths act in accordance with the law.

NRW Minister of Health Barbara Steffens (Greens) also called for stricter rules for naturopaths after the incidents in Brüggen. The politician criticized that anyone can register for the exam without any training. The 1939 law had to be reformed. (ad)

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