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Expert warning over drug reactions

Clinicians and scientists have contacted the government to express concern about the problems of drug failures and adverse drug reactions.

They say Britain's pharmaceutical industry is in crisis and call for a fresh approach to test new medicines in an open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron and Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

The letter, which has been published in The Lancet, says that the drug reactions have reached 'epidemic proportions' amid rising prescription costs and around 197,000 EU citizens are dying annually as a result of the problem.

The signatories also said that the reliance of testing new drugs on animals is partly to blame for the problems, with non-human trial results failing to translate to the clinic.

"Our reliance on animals to establish safety results in the exposure of clinical volunteers and patients to many treatments that are at best ineffective and at worst dangerous," they said.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

The Lancet