Where's the harm? Drug trials play down dangers with vague language

Euphemisms such as 'favourable' and 'safe' are being used to discuss serious events, say researchers

It sounds promising when a ­published study on a pancreatic cancer drug concludes that the therapy has a “manageable and mostly reversible safety profile”.

Woman with cancer

But a closer look at harms data for the agent, liposomal irinotecan, published in the Lancet in 2016, reveals that five patients in the ­experimental arm died from drug toxicities, compared with none in the control arm.

How do these facts fit with the description of adverse events being “manageable and mostly