Scorpion Venom: Can It Really Cure What Ails You?


When asked why large pharmaceutical companies, which spend billions of dollars on cancer research each year, haven't marketed scorpion venom, Mikaelin said, pharmaceutical companies don't study "natural compounds because you can't patent [a] natural product."

Medolife breeds a giant colony of scorpions -- 83,000 strong – at a scorpion reservation in the Dominican Republic. Turn over any rock, or peer down a bamboo segment designated as the scorpion's home, and you'll find a scorpion about as long as a credit card.

The scorpion's venom is extracted in a modest rented lab in Santo Domingo. Each scorpion yields only five to seven drops of venom a month, and only a tiny amount is inserted into small bottles, which go for $700 each, a month's supply for the average customer.

Although he said he is "more than convinced" his drug can fight cancer, Mikaelian agreed that the drug needs significantly more testing.

"We never use 'cure cancer,'" he said.

"To 'fight, fight cancer,'" Watts added. "Obviously we want to help the maximum ability that this medicine can possibly help. It's a natural product, if we can take it to the absolute maximum to help and if we can eradicate those cancer cells in as many people as we can, that is our goal."

But on its website, Medolife said Escozine is a "natural medicine approved and certified for oncological treatments." It is only when you click on the word "certified" that you find out it received this approval not in the United States but in the Dominican Republic.

"We're also registered in Russia, Belarus, Kasazkstan and Vietnam," Watts said.

The company's website has an "Escozine Success Calculator," offering its users the probability of remissions. But every scenario ABC News plugged in, including cases of the most severe forms of cancer, the calculator still promised some possibility of "major results."

When ABC News alerted Medolife that its website might violate FDA regulations against marketing drugs on the Internet without FDA approval, the company conceded it was rapidly making changes to its website.

But the more important issue was that Medolife could not produce a single peer-reviewed study showing that Escozine works.

In the company's eight-year clinical study, which enrolled 8,302 cancer patients with varying disease type and severity, Escozine was found to have a near 90 percent success rate in improving quality of life, which included everything from decreased pain to increased survival rates. But the company acknowledged that the study was not peer-reviewed, and the results of their trial are not accepted by the American standards of science.

It is one reason several American doctors say they warn patients to be wary of unproven remedies.

"You never say never. You never say that something can't possibly work, that it would never work," Lichtenfeld said. "We've all seen situations where we have jumped to conclusions too early, but unfortunately, many more times than not, the original claims for drugs like this don't work out."

But Howe continues to swear by the treatment and even got a scorpion tattoo on her ankle. She also said her cancer returned after she stopped taking Escozine and was now putting her faith once again into scorpion venom, hoping it would save her life.

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