The Massachusetts legislature is currently considering a bill to legalize the use of Laetrile, a controversial substance derived from apricot pits, in the treatment of cancer patients.
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) bans the transport of the drug over state lines, four states including Indiana and Alaska have already approved the production and distribution of it within their boundaries.
In addition to the FDA, the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute have both dismissed Laetrile as useless. The evaluation is supported by Dr. Emile Frei, director of the Sidney Farber Cancer Research Center, who branded it a "complete fraud."
Frei opposed the legislation on the grounds that it would "thwart the present federal regulations" and that it would discourage cancer victims from seeking a truly effective treatment.
Dr. Ernst Krebs, the biochemist who first synthesized Laetrile in 1952, supported the legalization so long as it insured the proper administration of the substance.
"There is no question of its effectiveness," Krebs said yesterday, and criticized the FDA ban as an "arbitrary measure" imposed on a substance they knew nothing about