Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Clinical Trial Challenges: The Matter of Michael Martinez

The complexities of finding candidates for clinical trials as ground-breaking as the hESC effort by Geron were touched upon indirectly in news coverage of the case of jockey Michael Martinez.

This morning the San Francisco Chronicle noted that the state workers' compensation department played a negative role in the matter. Earlier, the Daily Racing Form reported that Highland Hospital in Oakland, Ca., initially refused to release Martinez' records because he could not give consent.

Here is what reporter Larry Stumes wrote this morning:
"The decision by Dr. Richard Fessler of Northwestern University came late Monday after a tumultuous day in which Martinez was to be transferred from Highland Hospital in Oakland to UCSF for a high-resolution MRI exam. The transfer was canceled when the state Division of Workers' Compensation refused to authorize it.

"'The doctors at Highland weren't entirely in favor of the transfer and in an e-mail to Dr. Fessler they indicated that they thought that Michael was doubtful as a candidate for the embryonic stem-cell treatments,' said Golden Gate Fields physician Dr. David Seftel, who is advising Martinez's family on his care. 'The family is devastated, but we're regrouping. I don't give up; Michael doesn't give up.'

"Seftel has contacted Dr. Jorge Paz Rodriguez, the medical director of the Stem Cell Institute of Panama - Martinez's native country - regarding adult stem-cell therapy.

"'The benefits of adult stem-cell treatments have been relatively modest, confined to improvement in sensation, bladder control and bowel control,' Seftel said. 'But because it is so soon after the injury, it is possible Michael could get some of his motor control back. The sooner we get him to Panama, the better.'"
Here is what Chuck Dybdal of the Racing Form wrote.
"After initially refusing to release Martinez’s records so that Northwestern University’s physicians could review them, Highland Hospital agreed late Friday to release them. Highland had cited laws that prohibit the release of the records to anyone but Martinez, who has been rendered incapable of responding to specific requests because of the nature of his injuries."
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