Easing of Regulations May Lead Cuban Medical Innovations to U.S.

Politics

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Courtesy J-Stor

Courtesy J-Stor

The slow easing of economic and trade restrictions with Cuba after 50-plus years have been a major news story in recent months after President Obama agreed to relax trade with the island nation. While the huge economic and social ramifications of American tourism on Cuba have been the main focus, the potential medical benefits U.S. citizens could see may be the most important result of the changes.

Thanks to extensive government funding and a preventative approach to public medicine, the small nation has some of the healthiest, longest-living citizens in the world. In addition, Cuban investment in public health dwarfs many other nations, despite – or maybe because of – the country’s socialist economy.

Some of the major health breakthroughs discovered in Cuba include cancer drugs, such as CimaVax (lung cancer treatment), Racotumonab (blood cancer treatment), and VSSP (enhances anti-cancer immune response). Beyond cancer, there’s also Heberprot-P, a drug designed for diabetic foot ulcers that eliminates the need for amputations.

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Courtesy Cubadebate

Courtesy Cubadebate

Despite the potential benefits of Cuban healthcare, restrictions on Cuban drugs remain strong and “face additional regulatory hurdles for testing and marketing compared to other drugs developed overseas,” wrote the Huffington Post.

Pierre LaRamée, of the Oakland-based Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba, a group that advocates for Cuban medical inventions to reach the U.S detailed his frustrations, saying, “If people knew about these cutting-edge treatments coming out of Cuba, people would want to have them… All of these arcane rules and restrictions related to the embargo that are designed to block commerce with Cuba are keeping Americans from having access to these treatment opportunities.”

While the U.S. government’s progress is moving too slowly for those like LaRamée, the continuing normalization of relations between the two nations on economic and cultural levels leaves the door open for continued growth in the medical field.

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