PATIENTS who took part in drug trials at a hospital over the past 25 years were invited back to celebrate with doctors.

Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone hosted numerous clinical trials for over 400 patients suffering from various conditions, offering them drugs not available on the NHS.

The drugs, which had been tested in labs, were provided by pharmaceutical companies and given to patients who volunteered for the trials.

Michelle Heatley, of Austin Close, Loughton, took part in the trials after she had severe side effects from medication for rheumatoid arthritis in 2006.

The 54-year-old court usher said: “I was in such a bad place that I didn’t hesitate to say yes.

“I had terrible pains in my shoulders, ribs and ankles.

“In the four years I was on that trial I did not have one flair-up. I was rejuvenated.

“Clinical trials are important as without them doctors couldn’t develop better treatments for people in the future.

“For the small effort of three-monthly blood tests I’m able to work and enjoy a quality of life that would not be possible otherwise.”

Dr Hassan Tahir, Consultant Rheumatologist at Whipps Cross, led the team conducting the trials, which he hopes will help develop new therapies.

He said: “It is important to give patients a choice of how they’re treated.

“Our work means that our patients are often among the first in the country to be treated using the latest medications.

“Everyone is welcomed to either be treated using approved medications, or to take part in research.

“I find that many people like to support the development of therapies that will help future generations.”

MP for Chingford and Woodford Green, Iain Duncan Smith, was on hand to cut the cake to mark the occasion.

Mr Duncan Smith said: “I am honoured to be here today for the celebration.

“I have arthritis myself and I know how difficult it can be.”

“I also have a friend who has had rheumatoid arthritis since he was a child so I know all about it.

“Other people will be able to benefit from the clinical trials the patients underwent here and things will get better and better.”

Margaretta Rooney, who works as a nurse at Whipps Cross, said: “It is great because we are able to offer patients these drugs that are not available on the NHS yet.

“The trials have gone from success to success and will no doubt help others in the future.”