Imagine if there were a drug that could reduce the damage a heart attack causes to your heart. Imagine if it could reduce that damage by an incredible eighty percent.
Imagine that this drug could cut your risk of cardiac arrest or death after a heart attack too. Imagine that it’s something paramedics can easily give you when the ambulance shows up.
Now imagine that it only costs pennies on the dollar.
Ok, you can stop imagining now…because this drug actually exists. So why haven’t you heard about it? Why are we not using it every time someone has a heart attack?
Because Big Pharma flatly refuses to make it. Here’s why.
This is what happens when medicine thinks outside the box
Meet Harry Selker, director of the Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies at Tufts Medical Center in Boston. His grandfather was the inventor of the first automobile shock absorber, and Selker too has been a life-long tinkerer. But where his grandfather tinkered with mechanical things, Selker has tinkered with…medicine.
It started with clot-busting drugs.
These are now standard treatment for heart attack patients, and the faster they’re given the more good they do. Back in the 1970s, however, they were a brand-new concept. Clot busters given within an hour of the start of a heart attack cuts the number of deaths nearly in half. The longer you wait, the less good they do…and doctors were taking too long to decide whether or not they should give them. Not only were the drugs not being given within the hour, it was taking 90 minutes or more for doctors to make the call—too late for many people.
So Selker created a tool to help them decide if and when a patient should be given this type of drug. Soon doctors were routinely getting their heart attack patients started on clot-busters within the first hour. Thousands—possibly hundreds of thousands—of lives have been saved because of this.
Since then Selker has tinkered around in areas from knee replacement to opioid addiction, and his efforts have affected countless people in a positive way. Now he’s once again set his sights on heart attacks. But this time around, he’s up against Big Pharma, and they don’t want to play ball.
This treatment could save your heart
The treatment Selker is tinkering with right now is based on 50-year-old research no one ever followed up on. Way back when, scientists, for whatever reason, tried a novel approach to stopping heart attacks. They created a chemical cocktail of glucose, insulin, and potassium now known as GIK. They ran their experiments in baboons and rabbits, and mimicked a heart attack in the animals by physically cutting off blood flow through one or more coronary arteries. This is what happens when you have a real heart attack—blood flowing through coronary arteries is cut off by a clot.
While the blood flow was stopped—the artery was clamped—they infused the animals with GIK. And the results, at least in animals, were spectacular. When the arteries were unclamped and blood flow to the heart restored, they didn’t see any signs of cardiac arrest. The hearts just didn’t sustain the kind of damage you’d expect to see after a heart attack. So they rans some human trials.
But in people they didn’t see the same kind of results. In fact, the treatment didn’t seem to do much of anything. So the research was shelved and there it stayed for over 50 years until Selker stumbled onto it. He was intrigued. It didn’t make sense that it would have a practically miraculous effect in animals but not in people. After all, our hearts and circulatory systems are the same.
He theorized that the reason it didn’t seem to work in humans was that researchers had simply waited too long to give the treatment. After all, that was exactly what had happened with clot-busting drugs back in the 70s.
So he set up his own experiment.
The study was spread out over 13 different cities. In it, paramedics called out to heart attacks gave patients either the GIK treatment or a placebo…and once again the results were astonishing. The treatment didn’t stop people from having heart attacks. But it did reduce the number of people who went into cardiac arrest or died in hospital considerably. Most amazing of all, it reduced the amount of damage to their hearts by an incredible 80 percent. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association…back in 2012.
Since then, the study has languished. No one has tried to replicate it. No one is knocking at Selker’s door wanting to market this treatment, even though it could save countless thousands of lives. Why? Because it just wouldn’t make enough money, of course.
Big Pharma won’t touch this treatment because they can’t patent it
When Selker published his results back in 2012, he figured this would be as much of a game-changer as clot-busting drugs had been. After all, this kind of result is the holy grail of heart attack treatment. He thought someone would be knocking at his door asking for the recipe, and he was ready to hand it over in the interest of the greater good.
"I thought,” he says, “my work was done and people call me up and say you know, 'when would we get this GIK stuff?'”
But nobody did. No one was making it. No one was selling it. No one showed the slightest interest. So he reached out to pharma companies, begging for someone to make it…but none of them were interested. Nevermind the fact that it would be a life-saver—not a single pharma company showed interest. Because here’s the deal:
GIK is just a mixture of ingredients already on hand—glucose, insulin, and the mineral potassium. This is common stuff. It’s sitting on every pharmacy shelf in the country already. It’s in every hospital. It could be thrown together in a middle-school science lab. There’s just nothing “novel” here—and that’s what Big Pharma is all about. Because there’s no lab-created molecule that Big Pharma could patent, nobody stands to make big money off of it.
If you ever thought the pharmaceutical industry had the slightest interest in making people better or saving lives, this is proof to the contrary: this “cocktail” is made of readily available, inexpensive (less than a hundred bucks) stuff, and it would save people’s lives…but nobody will make it. Instead they’ll turn out yet another ineffective “me-too” drug they can make billions on while thousands who might live die instead.
So Selker is in talks with the FDA about a full-scale clinical trial. Even though we could have this treatment available right now without jumping through any hoops—for the reasons stated above—we’re looking at waiting for several more years while a trial is run, data is analyzed, and Big Pharma finds a way to patent it and charge multiple thousands of dollars per treatment. And if they can’t, it’ll never see the light of day, no matter how many lives it would save.