Hutch panel to review policies
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is assembling a panel of outside experts, patient advocates and community members to review the way it handles financial conflicts and informed consent.
The center is scrutinizing its policies and practices in the wake of a series of articles in The Seattle Times about two failed clinical trials in which patients died. The series reported that patients and their families were neither fully informed about the risks of the experiments nor told that some doctors involved in the trials had financial interests in the drugs being tested.
Officials at "The Hutch" have criticized the series, calling it "blatantly false." But yesterday, representatives of the center said a thorough policy review is needed to restore confidence in the center.
"The Hutchinson center has never been an institution that rests on its laurels," Peggy Means, the Hutch's chief operating officer, said in a statement. "We are an institution that always strives to improve our practices."
The panel will be chaired by the Rev. William Sullivan, longtime president of Seattle University and one of the community's most respected figures. Sullivan, 70, headed SU for 20 years until retiring in 1996 and is now a member of the Hutch's board of trustees.
Other members of the panel have not yet been chosen. However, Hutch spokeswoman Susan Edmonds said the plan is to recruit nationally recognized experts in addition to patient advocates and community members.
She said the research center wants people who are credible, can be objective and would feel free to suggest changes.
The panel will advise both the board of trustees as well as President Lee Hartwell and other top administrators. There is no timetable, but Edmonds said officials hope to name the panel as soon as possible.
The Hutch will run an advertisement in The Times tomorrow announcing plans to form the advisory group.
David Heath can be reached at 206-464-2136 or email@example.com.