Dispatches: The Drug Trial That Went Wrong

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For five months Brian Deer has followed the personal story of Ryan Wilson, who nearly died in the trial. When Ryan was brought out of a two-and-a-half week coma he was told he had suffered irreparable damage to his hands and feet during his fight for life. With exclusive access to the 20-year-old trainee plumber, Dispatches captures the events of that day and the impact it has had on Ryan and those closest to him.

His mother Marion Flanagan said: “He had swollen up something dreadful, his whole body, he looked very, very bad; I literally thought my son was not going to pull through.” But Ryan is philosophical about his position: “You can cry about things and I’m not acting like no big hard man, cos I’m not yeah, I’m far from it, but when you’re dealt a blow like this you either get up, and get on with it… or you just sit around and mope.”

Deer is also with Ryan and his family as he returns to hospital to have his toes surgically removed. The Government’s medicines watchdog said that the incident was the result of “an unpredicted biological action” but Deer digs deeper.

He obtains confidential papers relating to the development of the drug, the way the trial was conducted and the initial treatment Ryan received. He travels to Germany and the US to track down and confront those responsible for the trial. He pieces together an understanding of what went wrong and asks, as the search for new drugs moves away from chemistry towards biotechnology, whether what happened to Ryan Wilson is a warning for us all?

Dispatches: The Drug Trial That Went Wrong, 8.8 out of 10 based on 14 ratings

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  • JC

    This is gold.. They said the trial went wrong.. I beg to differ.

    It was exactly what they wanted, although the cytokine storm triggered by the ‘medicine’ was a bit volatile.

    You do a test on 6 people and they all get similar symptoms and one of those volunteers gets a cytokine storm and almost dies in the process.

    You can’t convince me that the doctors and nurses did not know that this would happen.

    They knew, and this was a successful test.

  • JC

    This is gold.. They said the trial went wrong.. I beg to differ.

    It was exactly what they wanted, although the cytokine storm triggered by the ‘medicine’ was a bit volatile.

    You do a test on 6 people and they all get similar symptoms and one of those volunteers gets a cytokine storm and almost dies in the process.

    You can’t convince me that the doctors and nurses did not know that this would happen.

    They knew, and this was a successful test.

  • Mad Rich

    I HATE this style of “investigative” journalism.  He’s made up his mind up about what happened with the help of some ring ins and is not willing to hear both sides of the story. Its terrible what has happened and definitely lessons can be learned.  But you have to be an idiot if you think drug trials are risk free, they wouldn’t pay you to do it otherwise!

    • Kirsten

      I have to agree that the presenter’s approach when speaking with the medicines watchdog was totally unnecessarily rude and belligerent. That confrontation seriously ruined the whole documentary’s respectability in my opinion. And although the pharma company clearly made some mistakes in this trial, risk is ALWAYS present in these trials, always, and while I think he should certainly be fighting for compensation for the loss of his toes and fingers, the way the doc portrays the situation almost comes across as whiny to me. He experienced a horrible thing, but he was also experimenting with drugs that hadn’t been tested on humans: he should be compensated, but I don’t think this is worthy of a documentary.