ethics

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

Flickr, by Rodrigo Senna

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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.

Who lives & who dies: South African discussion started 50 years ago in Seattle | 

A recent BBC article on the need to ration kidney dialysis machines in South Africa prompted an interesting article in the Global Bioethics Blog. One sentence in the article entitled “The God Committee, African style,”  caught my eye:

For some, bioethics started in the United States with the so-called ‘Seattle God committee’, the body of health care professionals and laypersons that was formed to decide who among patients with kidney failure should receive (then new, and very scarce) dialysis treatment.

The reason this happened in Seattle was due to the development, by the UW’s Dr. Belding Scribner, of a new technology that made kidney dialysis feasible for preventing death by renal failure. This made Seattle the world center of dialysis, and also posed a problem because not everyone with renal failure could get dialysis. Continue reading