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Fighting for Care When a Drug Trial Goes Wrong

It is both sad and depressing to write about a drug company not living up to its promises, whether they were spelled out in explicit detail in legal documents or in language that to any layperson is eminently clear in its intent.

So when a pharmaceutical company, testing a new drug looking for FDA approval, says something like:

“If because of your participation in the study you require additional care that would not ordinarily be necessary for your condition, this will be provided at no additional cost to you.”

That seems pretty clear — if our drug screws you up, we’ll pay to make things as right as medical science allows. You won’t have to worry about any medical bills — we’ll take care of it.

And if you thought any of that, apparently you’d be sadly mistaken, according to this article in The Wall Street Journal, When Drug Trials Go Wrong, Patients Have Little Recourse.

By September 2005, eight months after the surgery, Ms. Davenport required constant monitoring. The family decided to put her in a nursing home outside Seattle, near Ms. Languille’s home. There, Ms. Davenport lost her balance and fell a few times. The nurses put her in lap restraints to keep her from getting out of her wheelchair.

Ms. Davenport’s neurologist, John Roberts of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, says he believes Spheramine caused her sudden decline. Dr. Roberts was not involved in the trial, but learned from a UCLA neurologist in early 2006 that Ms. Davenport was among the patients who had received the drug.

The family had to resort to suing the company for $5 million (calculating the lifetime medical costs Ms. Davenport is likely to incur), because the company kept dragging its feet on paying for Ms. Davenport’s medical bills. The family has already paid tens of thousands of dollars in medical costs related to her care, out of their own pocket. Hundreds of thousands wait in the years to come if they hadn’t sued. The company says they are now “close to a settlement.”

But for every story we read about in a newspaper, there are dozens of others who are going through similar circumstances, without an end in sight.

Companies need to learn to do the right thing, because it’s the right thing. They shouldn’t be shamed into having to do the right thing because of newspaper articles or media attention.

Fighting for Care When a Drug Trial Goes Wrong

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Fighting for Care When a Drug Trial Goes Wrong. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 1 Feb 2008)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
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