From BusinessWeek: Despite ethical concerns, Big Pharma is recruiting more patients for clinical trials.
Feng Shuangquan, A 49-year-old peasant from the northeastern Chinese city of Baoding, entered his local hospital in April, 2006, suffering from liver failure. For the next two months, he was in and out of the hospital for blood transfusions, but doctors couldn’t halt the deterioration. Finally, one of his doctors handed a note to Feng’s wife, who was sitting by his side. Without even asking her to read it aloud, Feng knew the news was bad. “She didn’t say anything,” he recalls, “but I recognized everything from her face.” The recommendation: Let Feng go home and die.
Another doctor on the team refused to give up. He had heard an American company was testing an experimental device in China that just might keep Feng alive. It was an artificial liver”the rough equivalent of a dialysis machine for kidney failure”developed by Vital Therapies Inc. (VTI) of San Diego. Admitted to the trial, Feng spent several days in a hospital bed while VTI’s technology took over his liver’s function and gave the diseased organ a chance to recover. Today, “my health is pretty good,” Feng reports. “My life was saved.” [Full Text]