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Aug 17 2014

Paramedics to give dummy drug for heart attacks in Harrow

nhs_hospitalThe Daily Mail, amongst others, is reporting that the London Ambulance Service will start trialling the use of a placebo – a dummy drug, composed of salt water – instead of an injection of adrenaline when responding to heart attack victims. The London Ambulance Service provides emergency, blue-light, response across Harrow as well as the rest of London.

Neither the patient, their relatives, nor the paramedics administering the ‘drug’ will know whether adrenaline or the placebo has been used.

Around 50,000 people in the UK a year suffer a heart attack – only 6% survive. Adrenaline has been use since the 1960s, but recent research has raised doubts as to whether it works well, or whether, perhaps, it actually reduces the odds of survival. One school of thought says that adrenaline can actually increase the likelihood of brain damage.

The Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the London Ambulance Service, the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust and the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust will be taking part in the trial.

The trial is due to cost £2.75 million and run until at least 2016. Currently, there is no information available on how to opt out, should you wish to do so, nor whether your odds of survival increase or decrease should you receive the placebo instead of adrenaline. We can only suggest that residents contact their GP for reassurance or further information.

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6 comments

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  1. R. Gordon

    If the paramedics themselves don’t know if they’re using a placebo the only way to opt out is to call a private ambulance!

  2. Someonewhocares

    Troubling information – and from those figures it looks like it will cost the NHS about £25 apiece to play Russian Roulette with heart attack victim’s lives? If true nice to see we are all ‘lab rats’ for them now!

    1. riders of the sybian

      we always were lab rats remember drs practice medicine recall for a moment the horrific drug trials at north wick park if you want to live a long healthy life stay away from drs.

  3. Harrow Dude

    Can someone explain to me how it will cost £2.75million to trial saltwater. Surely you have to volunteer to be part of a medical trial.
    Definition of placebo “a substance having no pharmacological effect but given merely to satisfy a patient who supposes it to be a medicine” how does that work when you are unconscious after your heart has stopped?

  4. Charis

    On the second part of Harrow Dude’s comment – the placebo in this case won’t necessarily work on the patient, but needs to be administered to ensure it’s a double blind trial ie that the paramedics d’on’t know. If they knew they were administering a placebo (or, as I assume you mean, not administering anything), then they would in all likelihood treat the patient differently (better attention, etc) thus undermining the trial.

    And in answer to the other point, yes, you mostly volunteer to be part of a trial, but who’s going to volunteer to have a heart attack?

    And to Someonewhocares – If the latest evidence that adrenaline may cause brain damage -or even reduce the chance of survival! – is true then we’re currently all lab rats being tested on. Theres no data that either is better or worse, or on the effects. That’s what a trial will prove, one way or the other, so then everyone gets the better treatment. We could currently be being given the wrong stuff and there’s no better way to find out than this.

  5. Charis

    Oh, other point. I don’t know exactly how it will cost £2.75m to trial, but the costs aren’t just the drug/saltwater. They’ll be largely in the logistics and administration – all the drugs will have to be labelled, someone needs to know whihc is which, delivered to paramedics, training, record keeping and finally the analysis of the results. All non-trivial costs! (though the price tag does still seem high, I admit).

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