Second Opinion


By/Por Brianna Flores

The wealthiest and most successful cancer research institute of the 1970s, Memorial Sloan-Kettering, was heavily influenced by the Food and Drug Administration to falsify experimental results of Laetrile and its effect on cancer cells in mice.


In the documentary, Second Opinion, director Eric Merola and subject Ralph Moss attempt to educate viewers of the immense political and economic control that works to determine what is considered conventional medicine and in turn, consumers accessibility which is primarily determined by socio economic class and legality. Complementary and alternative medicine challenges both the FDA and medical authority and are therefore seldom granted approval.


Former Associate Chief Counsel for Drugs of the FDA, William W. Vodra clearly explained the intentions of the FDA when he stated, “Nobody is going to pay $70,000 for a new cancer drug if they can buy Laetrile for seventy-five cents.”


Derived from apricot pits, Laetrile, or Amygdalin, has been successfully proven to stop cancer cell growth and improve the overall health in treated mice by co-founder of chemotherapy and top scientist Dr. Kanematsu Sugiura at MSK. Also, Laetrile has been found to be harmless, so long as it is injected in an area other than the gut and is not ingested. Even after positive results, the FDA refused to grant MSK permission to perform clinical trials or admit to its effectiveness.


Repeatedly mentioned in the film, there has been an ongoing debate between conventional medicine and quackery; quackery and alternative medicine are often two sides of the same coin. The effectiveness and reputation of a therapy, medicine or procedure that is labeled as quackery is deemed fraudulent by medical professionals and by the majority of society. Despite the chance that Moss could be fired for voicing his opinion that was inconsistent with MSK and leaking scientific documents, Moss decided that informing the public about the lies concerning Laetrile that were occurring at the respected cancer institute was worth risking his job over because it was the honorable thing to do. An anonymous newsletter titled, “Second Opinion”, was compiled by Moss and other MSK employees in order to provide readers with information about labor concerns, patient complaints and of course included Sugiura’s documented experiments with Laetrile.


Second Opinion features digitalized footage from the press conference with Sugiura. “I’m the first person to have ever digitized that footage of Sugiura. I felt I couldn’t finish the film if I didn’t get a hold of the press conference footage. You can’t just say what happened, I needed to find it,” said Merola at a press screening.


The documentary will be released in Los Angeles on September 5 at the Laemmle Music Hall, please visit for extras and additional information.


Comments are closed.