Shah, Drug Trials, and Morality

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Dan Freda June 4, 2012 Drug Trials-The Constant Gardener In Ms. Shah’s essay she details the experimental drug testing practices of the pharmaceutical industry in developing nations, as well as the inherent consequences and questionable ethical tactics of such practices. She reveals that recently the pharmaceutical industry has been outsourcing an increasing percentage of drug trials outside of the United States and Europe and into developing nations of Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Due to environmental and industrial conditions, the sick are in greater numbers and are more willing to participate in drug trials. This is due to the lack of alternative means of acquiring drugs or proper medical treatment. It is evident in Shah’s essay that those participating in the these trials generally receive no medical benefit from the research conducted, and in many cases are being given drugs that do not have a strong correlation to the medical needs of the populations in which they live. Shah cites malaria for an example of an ailment that affects 500 million worldwide in developing countries, yet these people are participating in drug trials relevant to arthritis, obesity, and heart disease. Inherent in this system are questionable ethical practices. Informed consent is an example. In many cases when signing informed consent documents an alarmingly large percentage are misinformed as to the effects of the drugs they are taking. This includes the side effects as well as the actual benefits that are possible. Many trials that would be deemed as unethical in the western world also transpire such as placebo testing for terminally ill subjects. However, Shah also argues that these drug trials are not completely irredeemable or without reason. Many of the drugs tested are not harmful nor are they very beneficial either. There are inherent risks

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