L.A. County May Resume Drug Trials

L.A. County May Resume Drug Trials
Posted by FoM on November 29, 1999 at 21:50:03 PT
Associated press
Source: Las Vegas SUN
Los Angeles County has taken a first step toward ending a four-year ban on drug experiments involving mentally ill people in its care, officials said Monday.
But any drug trials are years off and would involve safeguards, including permission from the patient and a judge and evidence that the patient would directly benefit from the research, said Marvin Southard, director of the county Department of Mental Health."Medical research in general for psychiatric purposes is a good thing," he said. "The other side of it is that people who are impaired ... should have the utmost protection (to ensure) they are not exploited."Nearly 2,000 patients would be eligible to take part in tests. Most are impoverished schizophrenics placed under the county's control as "conservatees" because a court deemed them unable to care for themselves.People under private conservatorship already can take part in drug trials.Southard said any testing involving county conservatees would be small-scale. Guidelines would have to be developed before any testing could start, requiring a long process of public hearings, input from experts and possibly approval from the county Board of Supervisors, he said.The Los Angeles County ban was instituted after a private patient involved in a clinical trial at Camarillo State Hospital - which is not in the county system -- died in 1993 from a self-administered aspirin dose.A county committee that spent months on the issue voted 4-3 on Nov. 16 to recommend a policy for allowing county conservatees to test psychotropic drugs, which treat mental disorders.Some professionals and activists were skeptical."Beware of people who say 'I'm only doing this for your own good,"' Edward Opton, a psychologist and member of the state's Committee for the Protection of Human Subjects, told the Los Angeles Times. "Any drug might benefit anyone. But when you're looking for new psychotropic drugs you're looking for a needle in a haystack."Published: November 29, 1999All contents  1996 - 1999 Las Vegas Sun, Inc.
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