Remember Tuskegee? No, not the huge explosion in Siberia (caused by one of Nikola Tesla's experiments--wink wink.) That was Tunguska. In the Tuskegee Syphillis Study (1932-1972), hundreds of poor black men in Alabama were given shitty treatment for syphillis to see what would happen. In bad faith, the men were told they had "bad blood." No diagnosis, no informed consent.
Earlier this month, science writer Rebecca Skloot made a couple of blog posts covering the ethical implications of a new study. PolyHeme, a blood substitute, is being tested on unwitting ER patients, mostly in inner-city hospitals. The bizarro blood is creating bad press.
Meanwhile, testing on brown people has gone global, and human guinea pig positions are being outsourced overseas. Jennifer Kahn has a story in the March issue of Wired called A Nation of Guinea Pigs (not to be confused with Jeffrey Kahn's story in the March issue of Seed called The Case for Human Guinea Pigs) about how big pharm uses the population of India for cheap drug trials. They receive informed consent, but, as one doctor in the article says: "Nine out of 10 times, the patient will just ask me to make the decision about the trial for him. So what role do I play? Am I a physician, concentrating on what's best for the patient? Or am I a researcher interested in recruiting patients?"
Now, where did I put my PharmAmorin?