• Five other vicitims in hospital are in stable condition
  • French authorities to begin probe into trial conditions

A man determined brain dead two days ago following testing on an experimental drug from Bial-Portela & Ca. SAin France died Sunday. Five other patients who took part in the trial for the closely held Portuguese company remain in hospital.

The patients still hospitalized in relation to the tests that began in July were in stable condition, according to a statement issued by the hospital in Rennes, France, where the tests were carried out. Bial’s experimental drug aims to treat mood and motor disorders linked to neurodegenerative illnesses and anxiety.

French authorities are contacting the other 84 people involved in the trial. Of the 10 reached so far, none show symptoms similar to those in hospital, according to the statement. Those affected had taken the drug repeatedly starting Jan. 7, according to Marisol Touraine, the French minister for health, who called it an accident of “extraordinary gravity.” The testing was stopped on Jan. 11.

While serious side effects can occur in the first stage of testing drugs in humans, incidents such as this are “extremely rare,” according to Monika Benstetter, a spokeswoman for the European Medicines Agency. A decade ago in London, six healthy men suffered multiple organ failures after taking an experimental medicine.

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