Friday, March 17, 2006

Clinical trials have some risk

ABC News reports today on a story in London: "Shortly after receiving an injection of a new experimental drug on Monday, six men in a research unit in London fell violently ill and developed multiple organ failure. Now, five days later, four of the men have regained consciousness, the BBC reports, while two are still under sedation in critical condition. Their harrowing experience - various reports indicate the men quickly swelled up, having undergone anaphylactic shock, or an extremely potent allergic reaction - is casting light on the clinical trial process, a system that has undeniably made important and frequent discoveries in medicine, but also creates unavoidable risks for the people who volunteer to be test subjects."

In the U.S. says ABC: "Unknown problems can arise at any step in this pipeline, researchers say, even when all the scientists involved try their very hardest to prevent any negative outcomes, said Dr. Ezekiel J. Emanuel, chair of the Department of Clinical Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health."

I am saddened for the families of the clinical trial patients - participants are our heroes when they go before us to try out drugs that we may someday benefit from having.