Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Ethicists question doctor’s pitch for a hepatitis C drug trial

Ethicists question doctor’s pitch for a hepatitis C drug trial

By Sarah Schweitzer
Globe Staff / September 25, 2012


They filed into the hotel conference room, faces pinched with worry, drawn by the prospect of an escape from hepatitis C.
It was a disease they never saw coming. They had gone to Exeter Hospital seeking treatment for other ailments, and wound up exposed to the hepatitis virus, allegedly by a technician now under federal indictment.
On this August evening, the patients had the opportunity, promotional materials from an advocacy group promised, to learn about “new wonder drugs” with a “75 percent cure rate in clinical trials” from a Harvard Medical School instructor and liver disease researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.
As he took the microphone, Dr. Raymond T. Chung offered an authoritative message of deliverance: “We want to get about the business of helping these folks undo what’s been done unto them.”
But the drug combination that Chung hoped would undo hepatitis C’s damage had not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration, remained in clinical trials, and would not be approved for study by the committee that oversees Mass. General research until a month after Chung’s presentation
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