John C. Kirk (johnckirk) wrote,
John C. Kirk

Drug trials in the news

On 13th April, two of the Sunday papers reported on problems with a clinical drug trial at Parexel:
Volunteers ill after drug tests (The Sun)
Drug test scandal returns (The Sunday Express)

Both of those news stories have now disappeared from the sites, but the Sun article is quoted here, and there's a cached copy of the Express article here:

TWO volunteers are in hospital after taking experimental drugs being tested by the company which ran the disastrous "Elephant Man" drug trials two years ago.

The controversial US giant Parexel has been recruiting "guinea-pigs" to test a potentially dangerous new drug designed to help people overcome addictions. Two have been taken to hospital suffering from potentially deadly conditions after taking Nalmefene. One developed a stomach ulcer and the other pancreatitis, and according to Parexel their symptoms may have been caused by the experimental medication.

Quoting from one of the responses to that article: "it seems very strange that considering the money available and the so called wonderful American scientists that they come here to work and prey on our young people."

Parexel responded the following day with a press release:

The article incorrectly claimed that two volunteers were hospitalized after participating in a clinical trial, involving a pharmaceutical product being developed for the treatment of addictions, at a PAREXEL U.K. site. This report is completely inaccurate. In fact, the study is running smoothly without incident.

Later in the week, the Guardian reported on this (i.e. they reported that Parexel disagreed with the Express article).

Yesterday, the Sunday Express printed a retraction:

In fact, we now accept that the incidents mentioned related to a significantly different version of the study drug and trials conducted in the USA in 2000 and 2002 by a company unconnected to PAREXEL.

So, the moral of this story is "Don't believe everything you read, particularly if it's on the front page of a tabloid newspaper."
Tags: drug trials, journalism

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