A government researcher has called for human trials to be
halted after blood substitutes being tested were linked to an increased risk of
heart attack and death. In a study of pooled data from 16 trials of five blood substitute products researchers found a more than 30 percent increased risk of
death associated with the substitutes. The disparity was even greater when
heart attack risks were evaluated. Of the 3,711 patients involved in the study,
16 members of the control group experienced heart attacks, while a whopping 59
heart attacks were seen in the group treated with blood substitutes.
Dr. Charles Natanson, a senior scientist at the National
Institutes of Health, said that investigators should return to a laboratory
setting to improve their product before any more human tests are preformed.
Blood substitutes could prove to be an extremely valuable asset in situations
where blood is not readily available, such as the battlefield or small rural
Efforts to find a substitute for blood have been underway
for more than a decade now, with limited success. South Africa has approved a
substitute that is current undergoing clinical trails in eight countries. The
analysis was published in today’s Journal of the American Medical Association,
and reported that clinical trails from over 12 years ago questioned the safety
of the products and showed no clinical benefit.
While a blood substitute could be an extremely beneficial
resource throughout the world placing humans at risk from dangerous substances
before they have been adequately tested is unacceptable.