Hampstead doctor may be struck off after injection of unlicensed drug killed her sister

Georgia Graham

A HAMPSTEAD doctor may be struck off after she admitted injecting the unlicensed ‘wonder drug’ that caused the death of her 22-year-old sister.

At a fitness to practice hearing at the General Medical Council last week Dr Yvonne Pambakian, now known as Dr Rogers, admitted injecting her sister, Yolanda Cox, with the drug, known as B71, in the living room of the family home in Finchley Road on June 27, 2007.

Mrs Cox, an Oxford graduate who had got married just one year earlier, collapsed after a massive allergic reaction. She was rushed to the Royal Free Hospital where her life support machine was switched off seven days later.

During the hearing, which began on Friday and is likely to last three weeks, Dr Pambakian admitted injecting her sister, referred to as patient A, with the 6mg dose – a dose four times bigger than any other doctor had ever previously been given to a human being.

Dr George Lodge, chairman of the GMC panel, heard that Dr Pambakian also admitted injecting Dr Arpi Rogers (patient B) and Catherine Clayton (patient C), who was suffering from cancer and had been given eight weeks to live, with 6mg of B71 on several occasions.

Mr Brassington, counsel for the GMC, argued that the drug was given without appropriate cause and without suitable pre-treatment checks, monitoring and follow up.

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Dr Pambakian also stands accused of not obtaining the informed consent of any of the three people she injected. She denies all these charges.

The B71 drug was being developed to reduce insulin levels but the family believed it could treat a variety of diseases from cancer to eczema. It had previously only be tested on 40 people in a trial in the Netherlands.

However in his opening statement Mr Brassington branded Dr Pambakian’s at home injections as “cavalier” and “ethically inappropriate” regardless of her belief in the efficacy of the product.

He said that the injections were carried out in a “home environment devoid of adequate resuscitation facilities” and that the amount of B71 was “far in excess of what had previously been administered to human beings.”

Mr Brassington added that despite the family’s knowledge of the drug, paramedics said the family had resisted requests to give them information about it even when Mrs Cox was in a critical state. Instead Dr Pambakian told paramedics she had been given medicine “for her asthma”.

The family’s pharmaceutical company, Amro Biotech, had invested more than �3million developing the B71 formula. Dr Pambakian’s mother, who qualified as a pathologist, had spent more than a decade attempting to perfect the drug. Dr Pambakian was charged by the GMC of being medical director of the company, a charge she admits.

Mr Brassington told counsel the family believed administration could “counteract the hyper insulism [the opposite of diabetes] associated with various different conditions and thus be beneficial in treating any secondary effects of this hyper-insulism.”

This includes high cholesterol, diabetes and cancer and that experts brought in front of the council over the following weeks would refute these claims. The hearing is due to continue until March 4.