Letters

Quinacrine in possible or probable CJD

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7331.239 (Published 26 January 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:239

If you had suspected CJD would you be indifferent between placebo and quinacrine?

  1. David Braunholtz, senior research fellow ([email protected]),
  2. Judith Harris, research associate
  1. Department of Public Health and Epidemiology, University of Birmingham, Birmingham B15 2TT
  2. Newham General Hospital, London E13 8SL

    EDITOR—After the apparent recovery of a patient with suspected variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease when she was treated with quinacrine, the Department of Health is reported as planning a clinical trial to evaluate the drug's effectiveness as a potential treatment for the disease.1 Should an ethics committee approve such a trial?

    There is clearly considerable uncertainty about the effect of quinacrine in variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and other prion diseases,2 but we find it almost inconceivable that a rational patient with suspected prion disease would be in equipoise—that is, indifferent—between quinacrine and placebo. The side effects of quinacrine are well known and are comparatively minor over a wide dose range; the drug …

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