French health minister travels to clinic in Rennes, where all trials of the drug have been suspended.
One person is brain dead and five others are seriously ill after taking part in a medical drug trial for an unnamed pharmaceutical firm at a clinic in north-west France.
The French health ministry said the six patients had been in good health until taking the oral medication. The ministry did not say what the new medicine was intended to be used for, but a source close to the case told AFP that the drug was a painkiller containing cannabinoids, an active ingredient found in cannabis plants.
The health minister, Marisol Touraine, said the six had been taking part in a “trial of an oral medication being developed by a European laboratory” in Rennes, Brittany. The patients were admitted to hospital at the beginning of this week.
The ministry said the test was carried out by a private establishment “specialised in carrying out clinical trials”. Local media reported that the trial took place at the Biotrial clinic.
The trial was intended to test for side-effects of the new drug. All trials on the drug at the clinic have been suspended and the French state prosecutor has opened an inquiry.
The study was a phase one clinical trial, in which healthy volunteers take the medication to “evaluate the safety of its use, tolerance and pharmacological profile of the molecule”, Touraine said.