I’ve been following the story of the six men who were in intensive care after suffering severe side-effects from testing the anti-inflammatory drug, TGN1412. Two of the men still remain in critical condition and it’s thought that one of them could remain in a coma for a year. It’s a terrible situation both for the volunteers and also their families.
Drugs like TGN1412 are usually tested in lab conditions first and then on animals, before going to the next stage of human trials. This latest drug trial disaster just proves how unreliable animal testing can be. Animals have different physiology to humans and react differently to certain drugs than we do. What is safe and works effectively for animals doesn’t always have the same effect in a human, and in some cases can have devastating and often dangerous effects as in this trial. A classic example is the Thalidomide drug which caused birth defects in thousands of people, when used by humans, despite having been tested on several different species of animals with no ill effects. Apparently TGN1412 (used to treat leukaemia), was tested on monkeys and the only effect was swollen glands but according to a relative of one of the men in critical condition, his head had swollen to twice its size and he resembled the elephant man, apart from his organs failing. I myself have always been against animal testing. After the latest fiasco, surely it’s time the medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies find a better and more reliable method of testing new drugs.
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