One person is brain dead and five others are seriously ill after taking part in a drug trial for a pharmaceutical firm in France.
According to the Independent, the French health ministry said the six patients had been in good health until taking the oral medication.
Health minister, Marisol Touraine, said:
The six were part of a trial for an oral medication being developed by a European laboratory in Rennes, Brittany.
The ministry said the test was carried out by a private establishment that ‘specialised in clinical trials’ and was testing for side-effects of the new drug.
According to the Guardian all trials on the drug at the clinic have now been suspended and the French state prosecutor has opened an inquiry.
An unnamed source told AFP the drug was a painkiller containing cannabinoids, although the French health minister denied this, saying it did not contain cannabis or anything derived from it.
Every year thousands of volunteers, often students looking to make extra money, take part in such trials.
Dr Ben Whalley, a neuropharmacology professor at the University of Reading, said there are safety regulations in place:
However, like any safeguard, these minimise risk rather than abolish it. There is an inherent risk in exposing people to any new compound.
As sad as this news is, there have been a number of studies conducted which show that cannabinoids do have proven health benefits for patients with a number of debilitating diseases, including arthritis and certain cancers.