Clinical trials are a necessary part of improving the healthcare available to all UK citizens. Unfortunately they only ever get reported on when something goes wrong.
There have been many high profile cases in recent years but the most well known is still the ‘elephant man’ trial which threatened the lives of six male volunteers over six years ago.
The problem with clinical trials is that although in the vast majority of cases volunteers experience no ill side effects, in the few cases where things do go wrong, the results can be devastating.
To reflect these risks the pharmaceutical industry has recently changed the legislation which governs how these trials are conducted. The main change to existing legislation is an increase in the insurance cover required to proceed with a trial. Presently, companies who are conducting these trials are only required to have liability cover of £2 million.
Possibility of £5 Million Compensation Claims
Though this may seem like a lot, in recent cases this has severely limited the compensation that victims have been able to claim. This new legislation will require all companies to have liability cover of at least £5 million.
Though this may seem like a significant step in supporting the interests and wellbeing of volunteers, some legal professionals have questioned the scope of the new legislation.
Gene Matthews, A partner with Leigh Day Solicitors, called this new legislation ‘laughable’. He pointed out that although £5 million in compensation seems like a lot of money, it would be nowhere near enough to compensate a group of previously healthy volunteers whose lives had been destroyed by a clinical trial. He also highlighted the time delay that most insurance companies currently use. In many cases they will only allow for one payout to victims. This can mean that nothing gets paid to the victim until all observations have been made. In some case this can delay payment for up to 2 years!
Though this legislation is clearly a step in the right direction, many legal professionals see it as a very small step. If victims are to be compensated adequately and quickly, it’s clear that much more needs to be done. If you have been involved in a clinical trial that left you injured, you could be entitled to make a clinical negligence compensation claim.