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Film Review

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By Ron Merk

A few weeks ago I had the unique opportunity to interview the director of the film, Eric Merola, as well as the main subject of the film, Ralph Moss, at a nice little bed and breakfast in the Castro Street neighborhood in San Francisco.

The film, which details the disinformation campaign conducted by The Sloan Kettering Institute against the use of laetrile for the shrinking of cancer tumors, and their cover-up of the research done at their own institute showing the efficacy of this treatment, was of a very personal interest to me.

I lost my partner of 25 years to cancer ten years ago. There was no treatment provided by the doctors other than traditional chemotherapy. No offers of alternative treatments like laetrile. When I saw this film, I began to ask myself if my partner Chris would still be alive had this been tried, or would Chris’ life have been extended or improved.

The film, which is a straightforward telling of this shameful bit of medical history and the bad behavior on the part of many Sloan Kettering bosses, follows the story of the researcher, Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura, and how his studies in mice showed that laetrile could have a significant effect on the shrinking of tumors. While it was not tested in humans, one could draw a line to the possibility that human trials should have taken place.

The irony and the thing that angers me most is that The Food and Drug Administration, hand in hand with the big pharmaceutical companies, and organizations like Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute, knew that laetrile was a promising alternative treatment.

As Ralph Moss, the Sloan Kettering science writer who later blew the whistle on the institute told me, “Why introduce a drug that costs a few cents, when there are drugs which cost a great deal and earn obscene profits for the big pharmaceutical companies, hospitals that administer the drugs, and doctor who prescribe them?” He told me that the bottom line was money and profits, and that nobody was going to rock the boat and admit that laetrile was a promising and low cost alternative to much of what was being prescribed to cancer patients.

In the film, and in person, Moss describes who he was torn between knowing the truth about laetrile and his bosses’ insistence on not only burying the studies, but also putting out completely untrue information about this treatment. Lies, and more lies by Sloan Kettering and the “cancer industry” as Moss put it, and finally Moss had a true moral crisis the demanded some kind of decision on his part.

Finally, he leaked Dr. Sugiura’s studies to The New York Times, but with little effect. Then he and a group of like-minded people started to publish a newsletter called Second Opinion. The limited printing of each edition was snapped up quickly, mostly by Sloan Kettering employees. How ironic is that?!

Finally, the Second Opinion newsletter “staff” arranged a press conference. With great trepidation, Moss decided to risk everything by attending the event, and confirming that he had leaked the documents, and further informing the public that Sloan Kettering had purposely lied about laetrile. Of course, the very next day he showed up at his office, he was summarily fired, and shown off the property by security officers.

When I asked Ralph if he regretted his decision to blow the whistle, he said, “yes and no. I’m regret losing the best job I’ve ever had, but I couldn’t let them get away with what they were doing. It was a hard decision, because I have a family, and I had to consider what losing my job would mean to them.”

The other question that was burning in my mind was if there had been a conspiracy between Sloan Kettering, Big Pharma and The Food and Drug Administration, and Moss told me, “No, it’s not like they sat down and planned this. It’s just the way the money flows, and the way business is done. But that doesn’t make them any less liable for the damage they did to so many people’s lives.”

I talked at length to Eric Merola, and inquired what attracted him to this subject, and Moss in particular. He told me that he had done a number of other documentaries on the subject of cancer, and was a bit afraid he’d be known as the “filmmaker who makes documentaries about cancer,” but that Moss’ story was really compelling and had to be told. It was that simple. Had to be told! “The first time I approached Ralph Moss about doing a film about what he had done, he turned me down, because I had no track record as a filmmaker. But after I made the other films, I think he understood my commitment, and finally agreed to do this film.”

The result is an informative film about how the power elite can bury the truth in misdirection and outright lies, and how one individual can shine a light on the truth. As I sat with Ralph Moss talking to him, I remember thinking to myself, “I’m actually sitting with a real life hero, someone who’s made an enormous difference in our world.” I only wish that I had known about laetrile when my partner Chris was looking for alternatives for cancer treatment when “traditional” chemotherapies failed to stop the disease. What other lies are we being told by the “medical industry” and other industries. It will take other whistleblowers like Ralph Moss to let us know. We are buried in so many lies by the complicit media, politicians and governments, it’s hard to imagine that anyone can change things. Ralph Moss’ story proves that it’s at least possible.

As I approach the tenth anniversary of Chris’ death, I hope that others, like Moss, will come forward and do the right thing. Better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness.