The clinical trial tragedy (testing the medicine TGN1412) at Northwick Park shows that animal tests don't work


TGN1412 is one of the newer ‘biological’ medicines. None of the tests done before the clinical trial predicted its tragic side-effects. The expert inquiry described the human blood cell tests as a 'striking failure', and the clinical trial itself was poorly designed. Testing the safety and effectiveness of such treatments is more difficult than most medicines, but many biologicals which have been developed in animals, like Herceptin, are already saving lives.

There are around 300 clinical trials every year in the UK. Yet the kind of problem seen at Northwick Park Hospital is very rare, partly because animal and other tests are so good at discovering problems. To suggest that we abandon some tests because they are not 100% perfect is like saying that we should stop wearing seatbelts because they do not prevent all injuries.

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