When drug trials go wrong…

Travis DixonAbnormal Psychology, Biological Psychology, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Teaching Ideas

Would you sign up for a drug trial if it had never been trialled on humans before?

When testing a new drug there always has to be volunteers for the first human participants to take the drug. But what happens if the trial fails. Like, fails really badly? This is what happened in 2006 when eight male volunteers signed up to be participants in a “first in humans” study. The treatment was a proposed cancer treatment, but soon after receiving the drug the effects were devastating and some of the participants nearly died. The documentary below tells the whole story.

It raises some interesting ethical questions:

  • Should clinical drug trials be banned?
  • The participants were compensated. Is this right, or did they waive this right when they gave consent forms?
  • If this type of suffering can be experienced by humans in drug trials, is it right to even be using animal subjects?

Teaching Tip: I use the first two minutes of this documentary as a hook before going into MacNamara’s study on the use of SSRI’s to treat PTSD.

Here you can see the full documentary about the clinical drug trial that went wrong…