I've started a community wiki to consolidate the answers.
The professor I spoke with mentioned one drug that was discovered, alas serendipitously, by Barnett Rosenberg that effectively cures (with over 85% success) testicular and ovarian cancer: Cisplatin. This is an ideal counter-example to the skepticism (though at it's heart the skepticism is about the ability of our economic and legal incentives to procure cures, pardon the pun).
Are there any other drugs that effectively cure anything that had not already been cured? Ideal answer would be listed as:
- date, Cure, ailments cured (references)
Drugs that do not qualify as cures include those that are not cures (i.e. address symptoms), those that are ineffective (i.e. never go "flat" on the cure rate model of e.g. Berkson and Gage, etc). I would consider vaccines to be cures because they effectively cure the spread of disease, and further they're cost effective prevention.
There are two issues that present challenges when answering this question:
- Drugs that improve on existing cures; and
- Advancements in treatment of symptoms.
A drug improves a cure if the number of people surviving increases significantly. When asserting that this invention is an improvement, a reference ought to give the measure of improvement.
Advances in treatments
While there have been significant advances in treatment of symptoms (AIDS, type-I diabetes, etc), proper cures of the same would respectively be: an anti-viral that eliminates HIV; a drug that eliminates the need for treatment of diabetes. I also acknowledge that some treatments have advanced, such as childhood cancers, while there are questions of long-term survival rates and recurrence, the real issue is whether the ailment can be permanently resolved.
Cures discovered since 1969:
- 1978, Cisplatin, testicular and ovarian cancer (Barnett Rosenberg/Wikipedia)
- 1987, "Triple therapy", cures Helicobacter pylori infection (World Journal of Gastroenterology)
- 1988, Intravascular Stent, cures post-angioplasty closing of arteries
- 1993, HPV Vaccine, cures HPV-6, 11, 16 & 18 (Oxford Journals)