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Is There a Vampire Sucking the Blood out of Your Clinical Trial?

December 13, 2016
Posted by: Joe Martinez, RPh, PDE, PPC


Now, I don’t have anything personal against Vampires and some of my favorite horror movies growing up were with the blood-stained eyes of Dracula peering over his silky, black cape and uttering those famous words, “I vant, to suck your blood…”

However, having Vampires in clinical trials is a real drain.  Especially when the ‘blood’ they’re drinking is made from high fructose corn syrup with red dye.  And the clinical trial is for diabetes management and glucose control.  Read on…

The Situation:  We have a post-approval health outcomes study for insulin therapy and glucose management in type 2 diabetic patients.  We receive a frantic call from the doctor because he doesn’t understand why the patient’s blood glucose is “going crazy” on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings.  After talking with the office, the patient agrees to talk with our pharmacist on the phone to discuss the matter.

The Discovery:  It’s not rocket science, just good old-fashioned conversational techniques with a trusted healthcare professional – asking the right question and then listening for the answer.  We talked with the patient for about 5-10 minutes and then the light bulb came on, the gates to the treasure chest were flung open and the proverbial trumpets played in the background.

And oh what an answer was heralded in.  Seems that the patient belonged to a Vampire Coven Club that met on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.  As part of their ceremony, they would drink ‘blood’.  Upon further investigation, this was not real blood but high fructose corn syrup that colored with red dye.

Side note – Okay, everyone has certain inalienable rights to live their life, but when they’re in a clinical trial they need to follow the protocol as best is possible.  I’m just saying…

The Outcome:  The solution was pretty simple indeed.  We talked a little more with the patient.  Although he wouldn’t stop going to his Vampire Club meetings or partaking in the blood drinking ceremony, he did agree to substitute the high fructose corn syrup with red dye for water containing a ‘touch’ of cornstarch with red dye.  Mix well and you have a low calorie, low sugar alternative.

Subsequently, the blood glucose readings came back down to accurately reflect his life style (sans Vampire issues) and the health outcomes study was completed successfully.

The Pearl of Wisdom: 

Better than a string of garlic in clinical trials is the knowledge to proactively position your patients to be successful – take the time to know them, drop your agenda and genuinely be interested in them and listen to them…

just a thought for all of us…

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