Tuesday, March 21, 2006

DRUG TEST DISASTER

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.

2 comments:

Anthony said...

This is false logic.

The fact that one drug had animal testing that failed to pick up risks for humans, does not mean you can infer that the testing of other drugs in animals is pointless.

In fact, similar drugs to this did show toxicity in animals, which prevented them being used in human subjects.

Without animal testing the rare events seen in the TGN1412 trial would be more common, not less.

peterg22 said...

Hmmm.. y'know, given the type of pre-human testing allegedly carried out beforehand I am still at a loss to understand how the trial has gone so horribly wrong?! Surely the initial test subjects were chosen for their biological similarity to humans - maybe they should have chosen pigs instead (nothing against pigs actually, but we do seem able to accept some of their parts in transplants) ?