A drug intended for dogs has become the most recent craze among cancer patients in South Korea after a local YouTube channel featured a story claiming that it contains an ingredient that has the potential to cure cancer in humans.
Since the craze erupted in early September, the growing demand from cancer patients has resulted in the shortage of the medicine created to fight intestinal bugs in pets, reports South China Morning Post.
Perplexed by the trend, South Korean health authorities and specialists have issued warnings against potential side effects. In a statement, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety warned that “High doses of the drug administered over a long period can cause serious damage to blood, nerves, and liver.”
The Korean Medical Association also issued a statement discouraging patients from using the drug.
“We can’t recommend the use of the drug as no clinical trials have been conducted on humans and its safety has not been confirmed,” it said.
The original video featured Joe Tippens, a man from Oklahoma who claimed Fenbendazole saved not only him but others as well from the disease. In an interview with Koco 5 News, Tippens said he got the idea from a US veterinary surgeon who recommended the drug online.
Following the tip, he began using the drug and within three months, his cancer reportedly disappeared. Tippens, who suffered from lung cancer that had spread across his entire body, was previously advised by his doctors to prepare his goodbyes to his loved ones.
In the video, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation President Stephen Prescott also supported Tippens’ claims, noting that there was indeed an “interesting background” to the anti-parasitic medicine’s potential.
“Scientists and many credible places have done work on this for years,” Prescott was quoted as saying.
According to Prescott, other cancer patients have also benefited from the drug and he thinks others should also take advantage of it as well. He also expressed an interest in working with Tippens for a case study.
Skeptics have pointed out that aside from the deworming drug, Tippens was also taking Vitamin E supplements, cannabidiol, and an experimental cancer-fighting drug at the time.
Tippens believes the deworming drug had cleared his cancer, not the experimental drug, as he was reportedly the only person cleared of cancer out of the 1,100 patients who participated in the clinical trial.
“My insurance company spent US$1.2 million on me with traditional means before I switched to a US$5-a-week medicine that actually saved me,” he noted.
South Korean celebrity Kim Chul-min, who currently suffers from stage-four lung cancer, has also been following Tippens’ story. On his Facebook account, Kim shared that since he started taking fenbendazole in October, his pain has eased and his blood-test results have also shown improvements.
So far, over a dozen terminally ill patients with advanced-stage cancer have also been uploading videos of themselves taking the drug as a last resort and posting updates on the supposed improving conditions in the span of weeks. Many among them have said they are prepared to cut off expensive cancer treatments and use only fenbendazole.
Thousands of desperate patients have also expressed support for an online petition urging the government to conduct clinical tests to verify whether the anti-parasitic drug can indeed work on humans. The petition, posted on the presidential Blue House website, has generated over 4,500 signatures a week after it was launched.