clinical research

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Male birth control, made in the forests of Indonesia | 

Indonesian farmer
Indonesian farmer
Flickr, nlimmen

The first male contraceptive method to ever hit the market will almost certainly not be one manufactured in a lab by Bayer or Merck, but by the verdant forests of Indonesia.

The Indonesian plant Justicia gendarussa has long been used homeopathically to reduce stress, but more recently was found to have an alternate side effect: male infertility.

Scientists worked to isolate the active substance, Gandarusa and distill it into pill form. They began testing the substance on animals in the late-1980s and the buzz about this as a promising human contraception has grown in recent years. Continue reading

Drug/vaccine trials in developing world need better patient protections | 

Flickr, by Rodrigo Senna

Pills

At the 7th annual meeting of the World Conference of Science Journalists, several speakers said clinical research trials done in the developing world lack adequate patient protections as well as an ethical and legal framework.

According to SciDev.net:

For the pharmaceutical industry, the attractions are the lower costs and the availability of ‘treatment-naive’ patients, who are much less likely to have been previously exposed to drugs or trials.

The main incentive for developing countries is the promise of advanced medical science and access to the latest medications. However, the process of putting in place a legal and ethical framework to protect participants is not going at the same pace in many of these countries.

The article quotes Amed Dhai, director of the Steve Biko Centre for Bioethics at the University of Witwatersrand, South Africa, and others saying that poor countries are “fertile land for ethical misconduct.” The article specifically cites a vaccine project conducted by PATH in India, which involves accusations of research misconduct — along with disproven allegations of vaccines causing deaths in young girls.