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Outsourcing Drug Trials to India

Last week, I told you about the procedures drugmakers were using to test the potentially dangerous and useless avian flu vaccine on 150 healthy patients in the Washington D.C. area. One day, we may not see nearly as many drug trials as we do today -- at least in this country -- because drug companies are moving them to India.

This abominable practice exploits both ends of the spectrum in India: Its educated work force administering those trials and the uneducated living in poverty who have no idea what harm they're doing to their bodies for $100. The practice began after pressure from the World Health Organization forced Indian officials to ban the formulation of drugs developed in other nations (thanks to reverse engineering) nine months ago.

Considering moving trials could save potentially save drugmakers 60 percent in development costs, one business expert estimates such outsourcing to India may amount to a $2 billion industry there.

Supposed ethics standards adopted by the Indian government claim to ensure the treatment naive -- business-speak for people who may not understand the health-harming consequences of their bad decisions -- won't be harmed by clinical research performed there.

Folks, are the lives of the poor in India worth any less than yours or those of your family's?

Wired News December 19, 2005

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