Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Big Pharma Uses Poor Kids As Lab Rat

Ah, what the Big Pharma won't do for a dollar. What is worst is that most of these drugs that are being pushed for approval are done, not just on American foster kids, but on the other poor kids of the world.

There is a term for this practice, and it is almost appropriately labeled "Orphan Drugs."

An Orphan Drug is one that is intended for rare diseases. Orphan Drug legislation encourages Big Pharma to "speed up" research and development of these drugs. Where the profit margins are lower compared to adult drug profit margins (I base this on the census numbers of children v. adults in the country. and the fact that the U.S. one of the highest infant mortality rates for westernized nations.)

The best part is nobody in the U.S. will do anything to stop it.  Free market principles, you know. 

"If you do not wish to be a lab rat, then get a job."

"Save a lab rat, test a poor kid." 

HHS OIG Orphan Drug Act Implementation and Impact

This is why Big Pharma pimps policy for innovative financing, even on an international level.

Lab rats? Drugs for US children tried on Indians

Read more: Lab rats? Drugs for US children tried on Indians - US - World - The Times of India

NEW YORK: A law intended to speed up development of new drugs for US kids has ended up financing clinical trials in poor countries, where the medicines might never become available.

That's the conclusion of a new report whose authors say the situation raises ethical concerns. More than a third of the published trials performed under 1997 legislation called the Pediatric Exclusivity Provision were carried out at least partly in developing or transitioning nations, such as Uganda and India, researchers found.

"The trend that we describe brings up some scientific and ethical problems," said Dr Sara Pasquali, a pediatrician at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina, whose findings appear in the journal Pediatrics.

"Oftentimes, access to a study may be the only access to medical care a family has," she said of trial participants in developing countries. Once the testing is done, however, it's unclear if effective drugs will be marketed in the country in question, and whether they will be affordable.

Among the 174 trials the researchers examined, drugs against infectious diseases were most likely to be tested in the developing world, closely followed by heart, allergy and arthritis medications.
"We are now using vulnerable people in vulnerable countries as drug laboratories," Dr Marcia Angell, who was not involved in the new research, said. "It is all about dollars and cents."

The idea behind the Pediatric Exclusivity Provision is to incentivize development of drugs for children in the US.

Because many diseases are rare in childhood, clinical trials usually target adults only, and their results don't automatically extend to kids. The pediatric provision grants companies an extra six months of patent life if they test their drugs in kids as well.

So far, those patent extensions have netted drugmakers an estimated $14 billion dollars, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. At the same time, more than 150 drugs have been approved for children since 1997, said Pasquali.
According to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, a trade association, there is no difference in the way trials are conducted in the US and abroad.

M Nabeel Ghayur, a pharmacologist who worked in drug development in Pakistan before joining McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, said conditions are similar in India and Pakistan.

"People actually have blind trust in their doctor in South Asia. They have no idea what drug development is, they have no idea what clinical trials are," he said. reuters

Read more: Lab rats? Drugs for US children tried on Indians - US - World - The Times of India

HHS OIG Challenges to FDA's Ability to Monitor and Inspect Foreign Clinical Trials 2010
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