Today’s Solutions: October 22, 2021

Poor countries are guinea pigs for pharmaceutical tests

Tijn Touber| October 2006 issue
John Le Carré’s bestselling novel The Constant Gardener showed how pharmaceutical companies test new medicines in Africa, even when troubling questions exist about their safety and reliability. Unfortunately, this practise is not limited to fiction. Recently, a report leaked from the Nigerian government denouncing the Pfizer drug company for testing an experimental new meningitis medication during an epidemic without permission from either the government or the test subjects, as The Washington Post reported in May. Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders was giving out approved antibiotics at the local hospital.
Alongside Africa, India and Eastern Europe are also used as testing grounds for new medicines because costs are so much lower there than in the West and the rules regarding patient consent are so much more lenient.
Mo (July 2006), the Belgian magazine about globalization, travelled to Indian hospitals and witnessed how patients are lured by simple posters. “Are you overweight? Come to Room 1 for a free consultation!” Those reporting to Room 1 are told they can participate in a research project for free that would normally cost at least 1,000 rupees. Who wouldn’t want to participate? According to Vasantha Muthuswamy, Senior Deputy Director-General of the Indian Council for Medical Research in Delhi, most patients don’t even know they’re enrolled in an experiment. “The doctors say they wouldn’t understand anyway.” According to Muthuswamy, the government has no say about these practises, particularly those carried out in private hospitals. Yet the medicines may be harmful.
One final irony: Many of the medicines tested in India, Africa and Eastern Europe will never become available there. They are too expensive.
 

Print this article
More of Today's Solutions

Algae wrapped in droplets improves efficiency of artificial photosynthesis

In our quest for the most sustainable, most renewable sources of energy, humanity continues to look to nature for inspiration. One of nature’s most efficient energy systems is photosynthesis, which is how plants convert sunlight, ... Read More

Evidence shows Vikings arrived in Americas nearly 500 years before Columbus

Researchers have known for a while that Vikings from Greenland founded the village of L’Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland around the turn of the millennium, but now, a study published in Nature has finally pinpointed ... Read More

Egypt’s State Council swears-in the nation’s first female judges

Egypt’s State Council was established in 1946 and is an independent judicial body that deals with administrative disputes, disciplinary cases, appeals, reviews draft laws, decisions, and contracts that involve the government or a government-run body. ... Read More

Is group or individual work more productive? Here’s what science says

Are you a group project person or do you prefer to fly solo? We all have our work preferences, but what does science say about teamwork and productivity? A new study conducted by Quartz aims ... Read More

Wildlife filmaker provides a unique insight into the daily lives of bees

You may have seen bees flying around your backyard or local park, but it can be difficult for the naked human eye to grasp the full complexity of the lives of these pollinators. During the ... Read More