The Drug Trial That Went Wrong

Oct 31, 2023 | Drugs, Videos

The BBC documentary, Dispatches, tells the story of Ryan Wilson, a 20-year-old trainee plumber who almost lost his life in a medical trial gone wrong. After spending two and a half weeks in a coma, he woke up to find that his hands and feet had been irreparably damaged. The documentary follows Ryan as he comes to terms with this new reality, as well as his family’s struggle to support him throughout the ordeal.

Ryan’s mother Marion Flanagan describes the moment she first saw her son after he was brought out of the coma: “He had swollen up something dreadful, his whole body, he looked very, very bad; I literally thought my son was not going to pull through.” Despite such grave odds, Ryan has found inner strength and is determined to move forward with his life. He expresses this courage in saying: “You can cry about things and I’m not acting like no big hard man, cos I’m not yeah, I’m far from it, but when you’re dealt a blow like this you either get up, and get on with it… or you just sit around and mope.”

The documentary also investigates the cause of Ryan’s dire situation by delving into confidential documents about the development of the drug he was given. The investigation takes Brian Deer across Europe and North America as he confronts those responsible for the disastrous trial. His work reveals that Ryan’s tragedy may have been caused by an unexpected biological reaction – but could this be a warning sign for all medical trials using biotechnology?

Dispatches paints an emotional portrait of one family’s experience living through unimaginable tragedy – all whilst trying to make sense of how their loved one has ended up in such danger. It is an important insight into how medical advances are conducted today and why we all need to pay attention – so don’t miss out! Tune into Dispatches on BBC One for an inspiring look at resilience in crisis as well as essential questions about medical science today.

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David B