Would you be willing to be a test subject in clinical trials for new pharmaceutical products? When I recently asked this question teaching a group of workers at a German company which offers clinical trial services the response was a quick and clear: “Never ever”.
Who should be used as test subjects in clinical trials, was my ensuing question.
Radical Muslims- they should be castrated too, was the fervent answer.
This is the message of young people having grown up in a country where some 60 years ago the Nuremberg code was established, the first international code of research ethics. After the horrendous history of Nazi experiments conducted during WWII had led to the Nuremberg Doctors’ Trial (1946) during which were found guilty the accused doctors of “crimes against humanity”.
Certainly it is criminal when large pharmaceutical companies are using the poor, illiterate and uninformed people as guinea pigs. There is a long list of example cases where new pharmaceuticals or pharmaceutical tests had devastating effects, killing innocents.
Pfizer’s experiment, testing an unapproved drug, the oral form of Trovan, on children with brain infections during a 1996 epidemic at a field hospital in the city of Kano, Nigeria was “an illegal trial of an unregistered drug,” and a “clear case of exploitation of the ignorant,” the investigators concluded.
Merck & Co.’s arthritis drug Vioxx, the pain drug, recalled in 2004, is linked to more than 27,000 heart attacks and sudden cardiac deaths.
Healthy volunteers recruited to study by the company, TeGenero Immuno Therapeutics, in March 2006 suffered multiple organ dysfunction. The men may never fully recover, and may suffer long-term disruption to their immune systems.
An international consortium including German pharmaceutical company Hoffmann-La Roche was licenced the genes of Iceland’s population, valuable in the hunt for drugs to treat modern diseases worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
Autogen Limited, an Australian biotech company had secured exclusive rights to the entire gene pool of the isolated people of Tonga without the peoples consent.
The United Nations World Health Organization spread a Tetanus vaccine amongst millions of women of child-bearing age (not men) in Nicaragua, Mexico and the Philippines. The lay organization Pro Vida de Mexico’s initiated vaccine sample tests revealed that the Tetanus vaccine was a concealed abortion vaccine with a tetanus carrier which incapacitates a woman to maintain a pregnancy. The women vaccinated were not told.
There are many more examples of outrageously unethical research and tests that could be listed here. No matter how long the list though what is essential beyond the abstract facts and numbers are the people. On the one hand there are the ones treated unjustly, suffering, families severely traumatised. And on the other there are those who let this happen, are more or less knowingly part of the machinery.
Now when I think of the people I talked to putting their energy into supporting the clinical trial services company. They do not approve of the manner many of the clinical trials are conducted and even are suspicious of new pharmaceutical products to a point that they would not even buy and take the pills when first available in the pharmacies after the tests.
The focus here evidently is the personal security of people living within a fearful society which does not provide a lot of stability. It is about being able to satisfy one’s own ideas of comfort and life quality and not to ask too many questions.
The employees of that company clearly did not want to know too much about the overall work of their company. They barely have full insight into what their own department does exactly. They have to enter data into computer data bases. This is clear and clean enough. There is no passion in the work. It is routine that simply helps to pay the bills.
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