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In the eye of the storm

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.333.7568.570 (Published 14 September 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:570
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. London

    As the New England Journal of Medicine carries the first account in a medical journal of the London drug trial that went wrong, Susan Mayor talks to one of the authors, Ganesh Suntharalingam, whose unit had to cope with the crisis

    It was just an ordinary day in the intensive care unit of a busy London teaching hospital last March when a phone call from a nearby privately owned clinical trials unit catapulted the staff—and the six young men who became their patients—into the international spotlight.


    Embedded Image

    Dr Ganesh Suntharalingam's unit put plans into action that had been developed after the 11 September 2001 attacks in the US

    Credit: MICHAEL STEPHENS/EMPICS

    Suddenly Ganesh Suntharalingam, director of intensive care at Northwick Park and St Mark's Hospital, London, and his team had to mount a rescue operation for six patients who simultaneously became seriously ill with a previously unknown reaction after taking a new type of drug. Neither he nor his two intensive care consultant colleagues, Andrew Castello-Cortes and Michael Brunner, were to get any sleep for the next 36 hours.

    The healthy volunteers had each been given the new agent TGN1412, a superagonist anti-CD28 monoclonal antibody, which was designed to stimulate T cells, in the trial at a privately owned clinical trials …

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