The Drug Trial That Went Wrong

The Drug Trial That Went Wrong

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Dispatches: The Drug Trial That Went WrongFor 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? (Excerpt from

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6 years ago


7 years ago

I understand in the doc that they said "never been given to humans before", I wonder what animal(s) they gave it to, or even if they did? If so I'm sure the animals probably didn't react too kindly to it either, as cytokine release syndrome can happen in many animals, even those other than mammals. Its so sad that this chemical even got to human trials because I'm sure there must have been many warning signs if properly tested through the right experiments, which the health care establishment in the UK says there's many in place.

7 years ago

As a pharmacist, this is a very informative documentary. New drugs and risky and we know it was the first trail in humans but I see and agree there were a lot of lapses of oversight that the regulatory agency failed to account for. This is in addition to the utter incompetence of the treating staff and waiting 4 hours waiting to get steroids and antihistamines on-board etc. People need to be informed of the risks it was obvious this guy was not.

12 years ago

I enjoyed that in a sad and angry way. Let's hope no more of our healthy young peeps sell themselves for trials of meds. B$sta$d drug company went into bankruptcy as soon as they knew what the outcome would be for them. I would like to see a follow up of this young lad to see how he's getting along now.

12 years ago

I understand that these young men chose to partake in this trial. However as seen in the documentary, the people in charge of the trials did not fully explain and discuss in detail all the possible side effects. I wonder if the latter was done, if these young men would have chose to go through with the trial. I believe these men were given an illusion to what could happen and were not fully prepared to undergo the things they had to after the trials. I find it so upsetting that the people in charge have no decency to take responsibility and own up to their wrongdoings. It just goes to show how cold hearted these corporations can really be. They only seem to care about gain and success and money and what they don't realize is that they are ruining people's lives in the process. I can bet that those men who were affected by the drug did not get any sort of compensation after the trials, besides the 2k they promised in the beginning. They were just booted out with not even an apology for what took place.

12 years ago

Well ... there SHOULD be slower drug development, perhaps. Did the above poster consider that? It's pathetic the kind of things that get rammed through the FDA by powerful companies led by powerful men with the right connections. Most people don't explode when drinking a diet coke, but there is an interesting and shady history of Aspartame and the FDA for anyone who is of the opinion we just cant slow down our approval of new drugs ...

I dont understand why we would pay a human cost to develop drugs faster. What is the rush? Sure there are sick people out there ... let's not increase the number by acting foolishly. Are we in a huge rush to help these sick people? Or are we in a huge rush to get earnings into a certain quarter?

12 years ago

I absolutely disagree that there have been any flaws. This is why you call these trials TRIALS. At some point you will always have to give a medicine to someone for the first time and this just might go wrong despite all preventative measures. Furthermore, we have to think about the cost/benefit ratio of making policies more stringent, which will result in slower progress in new drug development.

13 years ago

wow!! that was a waste of an hr!

13 years ago

“Channel 4 sends it’s most ignorant and biased reporter to investigate a drug trial gone wrong.”
When someone sees the first hand impact of the complacency of a large privately operated drug development company and the monumental consequences’ for the victim and families involved, it is I imagine very difficult to remain jovial and friendly and to retain a state of composure, when one is face to face with the individuals who perpetrated, financed or carried out the trials.
I would have been outrageously angry when face to face with the government watchdog representative, the financiers and the researchers involved. As they represent to me a breed of people who profit and survive by exploiting greater society, and for no great philosophical or humanitarian goals, other than their contemptuous regard for people and their insatiable personal greed. I would also go as far as to say that these people should be exposed wherever and whenever possible for what they are (which is largely complacent, incompetent and reckless) and persecuted with the greatest possible vigour under the law.
It is to this man’s credit that he pursues these people and that he does it professionally, without people like him we would all be very much alone in the darkness.

13 years ago

Channel 4 sends its most ignorant and biased reporter to investigate a drug trial gone wrong.

This is obviously edited to make it look as if the trial went wrong due to genuine flaws in the government system and mistakes by all people involved, except the men who fell ill.

Useful for facts about what happened, but don't simply accept his point of view.