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Special report: Big Pharma's global guinea pigs

[T]he clinical trials business has gone global as drugmakers seek cheaper venues for studies…The increasing reliance on clinical trials in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America raises serious questions…are ethical standards in testing new drugs properly upheld in poorer countries?...[I]s it right to test an expensive new drug in a country where local people may never be able to afford it? And do patients always understand the risks associated with testing an unlicensed drug?...Annelies den Boer of the Dutch non-profit Wemos Foundation...says..."...There's an entire chain -- vulnerable patients, doctors with conflicts of interests, CROs [contract research organisations] that are geared to doing trials extremely fast -- which is detrimental to ethical guidelines."...[C]ommon complaints center on the lack of follow-up support and…jargon-filled contracts...Cases alleging serious side effects are rare, but not unknown…controversial cases...have involved the testing of AIDS drugs in Africa, breast cancer and anti-psychosis drugs in India, and vaccines in Latin America [refers to AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi-Aventis, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Merck, Pfizer]

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