Difficult Pill to Swallow

by Oliver Duke

Last month the news broke that one man died and another five people were admitted to hospital, following an experimental drug trial in France. The hospital then reported that four of the five had "neurological problems".   Following this, the trial, which involved taking the drug orally and was immediately suspended.

The outcome of the trial had been unprecedented and exceptional, but could it happen again? Testing such experimental drugs, at the cutting edge of science, can never be completely risk-free.

It is important to stress that drug trials, on the whole, have a good safety record; the drug has already gone through cell testing, animal testing and has already been tested on over 100 human volunteers.
While this is a rare tragedy, it is seemingly inevitable that it will scare healthy people away from participating in future clinical trials.

Following the investigation process we should consider implementing changes, however controversial they may be, if it will reduce the likelihood of similar tragedies in the future.

Could this perhaps enhance the case for extending drug testing on animals before taking the risk of progressing to human trials? Fewer volunteers and more red tape may mean important innovations in drug discovery which could save lives will be delayed, which in itself is a difficult pill to swallow.

We are interested to know what changes, if any, you anticipate to the drug testing process?


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