Ben Goldacre on clinical trials

“[If] you wanted to be actuarial about this, and count up the pain and death caused by research shortcomings, where would you find the most tragedy?”

- Ben Goldacre, writing in The Guardian

Although he naturally feels sorry for the men who suffered during the Phase I clinical trial of the ill-fated drug TGN1412 earlier this year, Goldacre seems worried that the outcry over the fate of the six afflicted men is overshadowing the everyday problems of drug testing in general, where the body count is orders of magnitude higher. Writing in his weekly column ‘Bad Science’, he reminds us of the various ways that many pharmaceutical companies are letting down patients in the drug development and clinical trial sphere, including at least 500 ‘duff trials’ on schizophrenia treatment side-effects that were too poorly designed to solve the problem; needless trials on clearly useful drugs in which the placebo group would inevitably suffer; and failure to produce life-saving drugs that would not be commercial blockbusters. There is, he suggests, a far bigger scandal out there than the ‘elephant man’ headlines imply.

You can read the entire piece here.