Military Not Allowed To Test On Civilians

Consumer news from Washington: The Navy will not be allowed to test a new “blood substitute” (derived from cow’s blood) on 1,000 some civilian trauma victims without their consent. From MSNBC:

    The development and testing of experimental blood substitutes has been fraught with controversy: Baxter International Inc. stopped research on one such product in 1998 when more than 20 patients given the substitute died.

    A second company, Northfield Laboratories Inc., began clinical trials in 2004 of another product, called Polyheme, giving it to trauma patients without their consent on the way to — and later, at — the hospital. Hemopure would be given only en route to the hospital under the Navy proposal.

A Navy official said the blood substitute could save lives on the battlefield in places like Iraq. So why don’t they test it there? “The Navy wants to test Hemopure in the civilian world because the battlefield is too uncontrolled an environment. “—MEGHANN MARCO (Thanks, Kristin)

Blood substitute too risky to test, panel says [MSNBC]


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  1. When I first looked at the picture, I thought: “this is way too esoteric. What do a bunch of brown shoes have to do with this?”

    Always worth a second look.

  2. spanky says:

    I live in one of the states that was part of the Polyheme trial, and I didn’t know a thing about it until it had been going on for years.

    That study was just horrible. The manufacturer, Northfield Laboratories, was given some special dispensation from the FDA to conduct an opt-out study on the general populations of something like 13 different metro areas across the US. They were supposed to ensure that people were informed ahead of time, but they didn’t. And they were supposed to provide some simple way to opt out of the study. Their solution for that was that people who wanted to opt out had to get this unattainable blue rubber bracelet and wear it constantly for the duration of the study (two years, IIRC).

    I spent hours trying to figure out how and where to get those bracelets. I could find nothing at the Northfield Laboratories page about how to do it, and the closest I got at the participating hospitals was that someone called a something-or-another officer at each hospital was supposed to direct compliance. No phone number, email address, order form, anything.

    There’s just no excuse for the way that study was conducted, and there’s no indication that this one would have been any different.

  3. The Unicorn says:

    Oh my god, that is just sickening. It’s like something out of a dystopic sci-fi novel.

    Never thought I’d have to worry about being transfused against my will with potentially-deadly cow-derived blood-substitute. Thanks, modern society! Just keep up the good work & continue becoming bleak in the most imaginative ways possible.

  4. Trai_Dep says:

    Why didn’t they simply test it out on the executive staff of the company? Seems like the best way to ensure quality control.

  5. mechanismatic says:

    It’s so inconvenient when chattle won’t let you…er, I mean when civilians won’t let you experiment on them. Who do they think they are – individuals with inalienable rights of life, liberty, and property or something?

  6. HaxRomana says:


    If I, as a patient on a long ambulance ride (let’s say I live in a rural area), had a choice between quietly slipping into irreversible hypovolemic shock or getting an IV drip of cow blood, I’d pick the cow blood any day of the week.

    The quote in the article, “We urgently need an oxygen-carrying capability that does not require refrigeration, is universally compatible and can be readily administered in a field setting,” is very, very true. Hypovolemia is the main concern for trauma patients, so imagine how many lives would be saved if ambulances and ERs were stocked with hemopure?

    There are quite a few medications that are made with somewhat unsavory ingredients. For example, premarin, a hormone replacement drug, is made with the urine of pregnant horses. If it’s just the fact that it’s Eau de Bovine that bothers you, do your best to get over it.