3 dead due to Hanmi Pharmaceutical’s lung cancer drug

As Korean financial authorities look into
a possible insider trading scandal involving Korea’s Hanmi Pharmaceutical… the drug company
was once again in the hotseat today along with the nation’s health authorities. Oh Jung-hee has the details. Lawmakers in the National Assembly Friday
questioned whether Korea’s leading drugmaker Hanmi Pharmaceutical deliberately concealed
the side effects of its lung cancer drug,… and whether the health authorities are covering
for the company. Hanmi Pharmaceutical had alerted the Ministry
of Food and Drug Safety in early April… that all patients participating in clinical
trials for the drug Olita had contracted a life-threatening skin condition. In August, the company halted trials. The Health and Welfare Committee pointed out
that while the drug safety ministry had said last month that just three people had had
such a reaction to the drug and just one person died… it turned out that in fact 3 people
had died, and 29 suffered serious side effects. The committee further questioned the drug
safety ministry’s decision to ease regulations on drugmakers and allow companies to fast-track
new medicines with fewer clinical trials. Lawmakers stressed the decision to loosen
regulations was regrettable… and that it prioritizes the financial burdens of pharmaceutical
companies over the people’s health and safety. But experts say… Olita does patients more good than harm,…
being a drug especially for lung cancer patients who have a tolerance to other treatments. “These patients have no alternative to these
drugs for an effective cure or to prolong their lives. The drugs are completely different from those
that general cancer patients would take.” The controversy has deepened following a decision
earlier this week by Korea’s health authorities to keep the drug approved for sale… on the
condition that patients are given full explanations about the possible side effects and agree
to use it. Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.

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