Kavanagh goes after laetrile ban again

In the 1970s,American lawmakers approved an exception for laetrile, calling it a “nutritional supplement.”


By Phil Riske | Senior Reporter/Writer

A veteran lawmaker says the time is overdue to tell Arizonans they can’t legally use cyanide as a cancer treatment.

Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said it was a mistake for lawmakers in the 1970s to decide it’s OK to sell laetrile in Arizona despite the fact that it is illegal under federal law. More to the point, Kavanagh said repeal would send a message that Arizona’s drug laws are based on science and not on politics. Again, he has introduced a bill to repealstate law permittingits manufacture and sale.

A fraternity brother of mine in 1960 won an Oxford Scholarship. He had just been diagnosed with cancer. He nevertheless, enrolled at Oxford and began treatment with laetrile.

My friend completed his four-year studies and was in reasonable health.Gary Cathcart returned to Wyoming, where he could not obtain Laetrile, and died a short time later.

Arizona law makes it illegal to manufacture, sell or even give away a drug unless it has been approved by the federal government.

In the 1970s, however, lawmakers approved an exception for laetrile, calling it a “nutritional supplement.” The argument at the time was the drug, processed from apricot pits, was an effective treatment for cancer, one the federal government refused to recognize.

The American Cancer Society says it contains a substance the body converts to cyanide, and there have been reports of poisoning.

And Kavanagh said it’s time to undo all that.

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