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Another evil thing to come out of Cuba

And it's one that might just put Big Pharma out of business...

The diluted venom of the blue scorpion has been used in Cuba as an anti-carcinogenic for more than a decade, though the scientific community is cautious about employing the formula, which is still in the research phase.

A queue of people can usually be found at the pharmaceutical laboratories Labiofam in the outskirts of Havana, waiting for the chance to try the product. It is provided free-of-charge if doctors determine it to be appropriate for the individual's case. Patients from abroad head to Labiofam as well, drawn by the success stories circulating about the venom.

''For the last year I have been taking 15 mm a half-hour before each meal to let the stomach absorb it. My last visit to the doctor showed that the tumor in my lung had disappeared,'' says Eva Gutiérrez, a 42-year-old woman from Venezuela.

There are many other testimonies like hers. In Jaguey Grande, 200 km from Havana, an adolescent girl, 14, was on the verge of death, her body invaded by cancer. Ten years later, she is a healthy woman with a normal life, though she has never quit the venom treatment.

The final product of the scorpion venom is registered under the name Escoazul at the Cuban Office of Industrial Property, but it remains to be seen if it can be more broadly marketed - it depends on the outcome of the clinical trials underway.

More than 3,000 people have participated in studies conducted in the province of Guantánamo, 970 km east of Havana, and many individuals are receiving the ''medicine'' directly from the Labiofam laboratories.

Actually, this is should come as no surprise to anyone who's been paying attention. I've blogged on this topic before. Cuba is the best-kept secret in the biotech world, and small wonder: does anyone want it getting out that a little island full of communists is actually an industry powerhouse? Without capitalism and all its wonderful incentives? Heresy!

Of course, at the rate things are going, Cuba will probably be bombed for having biological weapons. Just like that Sudanese aspirin factory back in the day...