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Research center responds to Times stories

Here is the full, unedited response from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to the stories published in The Seattle Times on March 11, the first day of the series, "Uninformed Consent: What patients at 'The Hutch' weren't told about the experiments in which they died."

Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's mission is to save lives. We are extremely saddened and disappointed by the media coverage in The Seattle Times on Sunday, March 11, 2001, because it does not accurately portray the facts of the situation or our commitment to saving patients' lives.

The issues from the early 1980s mentioned in The Seattle Times article are not news and were investigated thoroughly in 1993-95 by the Office of Protection from Research Risks (OPRR) in the National Institutes of Health. OPRR found that there were no material failures to comply with their policies for protecting patients.

Virtually all of the allegations made in The Seattle Times article were addressed in a 1993 letter from the Center to OPRR which has been placed on our website for public review. We have also posted the OPRR's conclusion after their extensive investigation.

Our goal is to always provide the best care for our patients, using the latest research-based treatments available. The specific research approach referenced in The Seattle Times article, T-Cell depletion, has with continued development, become an effective method to prevent many of the complications of transplantation and is now widely used around the world.

It is also important to note that the type of research done at the Hutch is a collaborative process. The standard procedure for bringing new therapies to the public at all cancer centers includes collaborations of these institutions with biotech and pharmaceutical companies. The Center and its researchers are diligent in managing the potential conflicts in these collaborations. The Center has many layers of review to avoid conflicts of any sort and, over the past three decades, these reviews have continually become more stringent and meet all current Federal standards and guidelines.

Specific to The Seattle Times article, Genetic Systems did not hold the patent to any of the products in use in these trials and the potential market for the product was so small that there was no opportunity for financial gain if the protocol was successful.

Based on the pioneering work done at The Center over the past 25 years, 40,000 transplants are conducted annually, saving tens of thousands of lives around the world. These successes are the result of carefully controlled clinical trials.

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