GE Attempting to Silence a Danish Academic from Discussing Dangers of Omniscan

December 20th, 2009

Via: Times Online:

Two years ago in a conference room in the Randolph hotel in Oxford, Henrik Thomsen gave his inside account of a medical “nightmare”.

In a presentation to about 30 colleagues, Thomsen, one of Europe’s leading radiologists, revealed how patients treated at his hospital had subsequently contracted a rare and potentially fatal disease.

Thomsen and other doctors at his Copenhagen University hospital were baffled as to why 20 kidney patients who had been given routine scans were afflicted by a disorder — nephrogenic systemic fibrosis (NSF) — in which the skin gradually swells, thickens and tightens. Some sufferers were confined to wheelchairs. At least one died. There was no known cure.

Then, in March 2006, there was a breakthrough. It was confirmed that all those who had fallen ill with NSF had been given the same drug in advance of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.

Omniscan was used to enhance the images produced by the scan. The product was sold around the world and was manufactured by GE Healthcare, a subsidiary of General Electric, one of the world’s largest corporations.

Thomsen’s presentation lasted no more than 15 minutes, with the final slide reading: “I hope none of you meets a similar medical hurricane.”

The quietly spoken 56-year-old, director of the department of diagnostic sciences at the University of Copenhagen, is part of a small group of clinicians credited with alerting patients and regulators to the potential risks of Omniscan for renal patients.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency this weekend said there had been 20 reports in the UK of NSF after patients were given Omniscan. Five of the patients died.

Last month, European medical regulators recommended that anybody who needed an MRI scan should be given a check to ensure their kidneys were healthy if they were to be given Omniscan or two similar products. In America, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing its advice.

Thomsen, however, now refuses to speak anywhere in England on the possible risks of Omniscan. The reason is that he faces another kind of storm: GE Healthcare is suing him in the High Court for libel.

One Response to “GE Attempting to Silence a Danish Academic from Discussing Dangers of Omniscan”

  1. tochigi Says:

    English libel laws to the rescue (of the rich, powerful and guilty)!

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