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Do we need a law to help people try experimental drugs?

Do we need a law to help people try experimental drugs?

Tina Cockburn, Associate Professor, Australian Centre for Health Law Research at Queensland University of Technology, Australia and Bill Madden Adjunct Professor at the same university, discuss whether the law strikes the right balance between encouraging medical innovation, promoting patient autonomy and protecting vulnerable people against harm and potential exploitation by maverick health-care providers:

The article mainly looks at the UK's attempts at legalisation driven by the sad personal story of Lord Maurice Saatchi, who lost his wife to primary peritoneal cancer, but also looks briefly at the Australian situation.

As the article says:

"Drafting the proposed law is difficult because of fears the reform will have the unintended consequence of protecting maverick, perhaps even exploitative, health providers who offer false hope to vulnerable patients as their lives draw to a close.



Perhaps the focus of the debate should shift to identifying and addressing practical barriers to medical innovation, such as adequate funding of medical research, rather than suspected but unlikely legal barriers."


Photo: Calyptorhynchus funereus, also known as the Funereal Cockatoo, Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoo or Yellow-eared Cockatoo. These cockatoos have a solemn, ponderous flight and I guess they do look a bit like undertakers after a hard day's work. Not all Australian birds are bright and cheerful in colour or disposition.

1 Reply

In one word, yes...

We need a way to encourage people to go on drug trials and we need better ways to communicate with the patients so that they know that a drug trial exists..

In the UK we had the big scare news a few years back, when a drug trial went horribly wrong, but we don't hear enough in the news of the success stories..

A casual check of people that I know who are, or have had, chemotherapy showed me that almost nobody knew about new drug trials. We still have the ' blind faith ' approach whereby they just do what a single doctor tells them to do. If that doctor is not up to date, or does not know about a particular drug trial, then the patient just gets the regular old treatment, even though there might be a new drug.

We need to educate the patients, so that they can push the doctors.

Luckily the next generations are more likely to search the internet and become educated patients..

'Knowledge is the best medicine of all ' Andrew Schorr..



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