The Krebiozen Hoax

How a Mysterious Cancer Drug Shook Organized Medicine
Author: Matthew C. Ehrlich
Deceit, delusion, and a classic medical fraud
Cloth – $110
Paper – $21.95
eBook – $14.95
Publication Date
Paperback: 08/20/2024
Cloth: 08/20/2024
Series: 3 Fields Books
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About the Book

The brainchild of an obscure Yugoslav physician, Krebiozen emerged in 1951 as an alleged cancer treatment. Andrew Ivy, a University of Illinois vice president and a famed physiologist dubbed “the conscience of U.S. science,” wholeheartedly embraced Krebiozen. Ivy’s impeccable credentials and reputation made the treatment seem like another midcentury medical miracle. But after years of controversy, the improbable saga ended with Krebiozen proved a sham, its inventor fleeing the country, and Ivy’s reputation and legacy in ruins.

Matthew C. Ehrlich’s history of Krebiozen tells a quintessential story of quackery. Though most experts dismissed the treatment, it found passionate public support not only among cancer patients but also people in good health. The treatment’s rise and fall took place against the backdrop of America’s never-ending suspicion of educational, scientific, and medical expertise. In addition, Ehrlich examines why people readily believe misinformation and struggle to maintain hope in the face of grave threats to well-being.

A dramatic account of fraud and misplaced trust, The Krebiozen Hoax shines a light on a forgotten medical scandal and its all-too-familiar relevance in the twenty-first century.

About the Author

Matthew C. Ehrlich is professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He has previously published five books including Dangerous Ideas on Campus: Sex, Conspiracy, and Academic Freedom in the Age of JFK and Kansas City vs. Oakland: The Bitter Sports Rivalry That Defined an Era.

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“A riveting presentation of a distinct and unusual story. The history of Krebiozen almost comes across as far-fetched, but Ehrlich’s excellent re-creation of time and place, alongside his incisive portraits of characters and institutional milieus, ground it in truth. Though the story lays bare the abuse of medicines and medical treatments, it is also a hard-to-believe mystery that shows the potential uses and abuses of the modern research university.”--John Thelin, author of A History of American Higher Education, third edition“A compelling and fair-minded account aimed at anyone who likes a good story about white-collar schemes and scams. Ehrlich’s in-depth examination of the years-long Krebiozen brouhaha follows the case from its shady origins to its unsettling conclusion. It foreshadows contemporary activities of false medical prophets, their disciples, and demagogic politicians who enable quackery.”--William M. London, editor of Quackwatch’s Consumer Health Digest