A recent medical trial in France has left one person dead, three others with possibly irreversible brain damage, and a grim reminder of the dangers of drugs. The study, carried out by Biotrial, a pharmaceutical research firm, was using healthy volunteers to determine the maximum tolerability of an experimental painkiller manufactured by Bial, a Portuguese drug maker. In return for their taking part in the two-week test, the volunteers are said to have each been paid a fee of 1,900 euros (US $2,070). With two more men also said to have been hospitalized, and all six participants having taken the drug at the highest dosage used in the trial, the outcome has been described as the worst tragedy of its kind to have taken place in France.
Significantly, however, in its headlines it is notable that much of the mass media has portrayed the study as having simply been “botched”. Apparently this word was chosen deliberately so as to give the impression that the researchers must have made a mistake, and to portray drugs and drug trials as normally being safe. But in reality the appalling outcome of the French experiment is hardly an isolated incident.
In a similar case in 2006, six healthy young male volunteers suffered organ failure after taking an experimental immune stimulant in a drug trial run by Parexel, a consulting firm, at Northwick Park Hospital in northwest London. Two of the men quickly became critically ill, one eventually losing his fingers and toes, and all of them were later told they could develop cancers or auto-immune diseases as a result of their having taken the drug. All the men, who were being paid 2,000 pounds (US $2830) for their participation in the trial, have reportedly been left with long-term disabilities. In statements, Parexel, and also TeGenero, the German pharma company that had manufactured the drug, later insisted they had complied with regulatory requirements and conducted the trial according to normal protocols.
Clearly, the impression that drug makers want us to have is that trials of their patented chemicals are conducted not only to the highest clinical standards, but also the highest ethical ones. Again, however, evidence suggests this is far from being the case. In one particularly infamous example, in 1996 the Wall Street Journal reported that pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly was paying homeless alcoholics from a local shelter to participate in tests of experimental drugs in Indianapolis. Claiming that its test subjects were people who “want to help society,” Lilly had reportedly offered them the lowest daily expense allowance of any drug company in the testing business at that time.
In clinical practice, so dangerous has the pharma approach to medicine now become that orthodox doctors, hospitals and their treatments have been shown in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) to be the third leading cause of death in the United States, exceeded only by deaths from heart disease and cancer. Providing further evidence of just how large the problem now is, a JAMA study published in 1998 estimated that in 1994 around 2,216,000 hospitalised patients in the United States had suffered a serious adverse drug reaction (ADR) and that 106,000 suffered a fatal ADR.
In sharp contrast to the dangers of drugs, natural health therapies are both free from side effects AND effective in controlling diseases. Through the Cellular Medicine approach, we already have the scientific means of preventing cardiovascular diseases, which kill 17.5 million people every year, and cancer, which kills 8.2 million. To any truly responsible government, a safe natural health approach that can save millions of lives – as well as simultaneously remove the need for dangerous experimental drug trials – should surely be worthy of serious consideration. Only time will tell whether our politicians are listening.