Ellen Roche, a technician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, volunteered to take part in an asthma trial for healthy individuals. The trial’s goal was to discover what mechanism kept healthy people from developing the symptoms of asthma, so the doctors induced a mild asthmatic reaction and then treated it with hexamethonium.
At first, inhaling this medicine simply caused Ms. Roche to develop a cough. But as time progressed, she was put on a ventilator as her lung tissue broke down and her kidneys began to fail. She died one month later, on June 2, 2001.Medical officials from the trial admit that the hexamethonium “was either solely responsible for the subject’s illness or played an important contributory role.” To make matters worse, participants learned after the trial that hexamethonium is not even an FDA-approved drug. This fact was not included in the consent form, so Johns Hopkins has been forced to take full responsibility for Roche’s death.