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The family of a 24-year-old lab worker who died while participating in a Johns Hopkins University asthma study has reached an out-of-court settlement with the school, a family attorney said Thursday. Craig Schoenfeld, who represents the estate of Ellen Roche, did not disclose terms of the agreement. Roche’s death June 2 led the federal government to temporarily shut down most of Hopkins’ research involving human subjects. She died about a month after inhaling hexamethonium, a drug intended to induce asthmatic symptoms. “You can never use the word ‘satisfactory’ when talking about the death of a loved one,” Schoenfeld said. “Certainly, this has been a terribly painful experience for the Roche family and all those that knew and loved Ellen.” But he said he did credit Hopkins for being “communicative with us almost from the get-go, and forthcoming with information.” The study, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, was intended to help doctors learn how the body fights asthma by inducing the symptoms in healthy lungs. Roche, a lab technician at Johns Hopkins’ Asthma and Allergy Center, was one of three subjects who inhaled the drug. Roche, who was to receive $365 for her part, developed a cough and flu-like symptoms a day after the test. She was admitted to the university’s Bayview Medical Center after X-rays showed a lung inflammation. In a statement, Hopkins said it would not comment on the costs of the settlement, but praised the Roche family’s willingness to reach an agreement “without the need for lawsuits and court trials.” A memorial recognizing the dead woman’s contributions was planned, the statement said. Shortly after Roche’s death, the university suspended projects led by Dr. Alkis Togias, the lead researcher in the study, who remains on staff. In July, the federal Office for Human Research Protections shut down most of Hopkins’ 2,400 federally funded experiments for five days. Federal regulators said hexamethonium was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for that use and an internal review board did not provide adequate oversight. Hopkins responded by calling the action “unwarranted, unnecessary, paralyzing and precipitous.” Federal regulators have since said that the university has taken steps to correct problems that led to the death. Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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