Throughout history, drug companies have performed reckless experimentation on thousands of vulnerable patients such as the terminally ill, prisoners, mentally disabled and those from poor backgrounds in order to get their latest drug onto the market as soon as possible. These companies are prepared to hide, misinterpret and even falsify evidence in order to do so. Drug companies will also hide any negative information concerning their product from both patients and researchers. This has led to thousands of vulnerable patients suffering horrific side effects from dangerous medications that are fast-tracked onto the market by the FDA under ‘accelerated approval’ regulations that were introduced in 1993.
Patients that take part in experimental drug trials are being given drugs that are known to cause further illness and seriously affect a patient’s quality of life by researchers that often have a financial interest in the company that manufactures the medication. According to a report published in 1998 in the New England Journal of Medicine, 96% of authors who published favorable research on a particular medicine had financial connections to the company that manufactured it. Even more shockingly, between 1980 and 1989, 98% of clinical trials that were commissioned by the drug manufacturer published results that favored their drug according to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 1996.
Drug Companies Regularly Withhold or Falsify Information
A 2012 report published in the medical journal PLOS Medicine claims that the popular antiviral drug Tamiflu that was touted as a vaccine against the H1N1 virus was actually found to be ineffective by the FDA. Claims that the vaccine could stop the spread of the virus and save lives were based on ten clinical trials that were all conducted by the drug’s manufacturer Roche. The FDA found no evidence to support these claims and required the manufacturer to print a statement on the label stating that the medicine did not stop the spread of the H1N1 virus. Despite these findings, the FDA went on to approve Tamiflu in 2009 and the US stockpiled over $1.5 billion worth of the drug. In 2000, a popular diabetes drug known as Rezulin was recalled after it was found to cause liver failure and even resulted in the deaths of several patients. A Manhattan jury found the manufacturers Warner-Lambert, a subsidiary or Pfizer, guilty of withholding information about the drug from patients and physicians.
The Need To Protect Terminally Ill Patients
Patients that are diagnosed with a terminal condition such as cancer or Aids are prime targets for unethical human experimentation. Those who have recently been told that they may only have a few years or even months left to live often feel they have nothing to lose and are more likely to enroll in clinical trials. Physicians will often claim that by enrolling in the trial, the patient will have access to the best drugs on the market making the sufferer believe that the trial may be their only hope for prolonged survival. The founder of one of the largest biotech firms in the UK, Scotia Holdings, published a paper in the Lancet medical journal detailing how physicians often mislead terminally ill patients on the benefits of clinical trials. Professor David Horrobin claims that less than 30% of these patients will actually benefit from these trials and most will suffer serious side effects.
Human Experimentation Throughout History
Unethical human experimentation is by no means a new practice in the US as there have been hundreds of cases that have been uncovered throughout history. The Guatemala syphilis experiments carried out from 1946 to 1948 saw researchers working for the United States Public Health Service knowingly infect mental patients, prostitutes and soldiers with syphilis and other sexual diseases without their knowledge in order to test the effects of penicillin. The experiments led to an estimated 83 deaths. An experiment conducted in the US ran from 1932 all the way to 1972 under the supervision of the US Public Health Service and involved researchers monitoring the long-term effects of syphilis on rural farm workers in Tuskegee. Participants in the study were given meals, healthcare and even burial insurance in exchange for their participation in the study but were never told they had syphilis and did not receive treatment for it from the doctors.
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