Thursday, July 31, 2014

How low can pharma researchers go?


Pretty damn low.  This week Matter has published two long pieces of medical muckraking.  My piece investigates the way that clinical trial sites are recruiting mentally ill subjects from homeless shelters and paying them to test the safety of experimental drugs.  Peter Aldhous shows the extent to which pharma-sponsored trials are being run by doctors who have been disciplined for problems ranging from substance abuse to professional incompetence.

The larger problem, of course, is the extraordinarily weak, often corrupt oversight system that is supposed to be protecting research subjects.  As Elizabeth Woeckner of Circare says, "These are regulations for a world that doesn't exist anymore."

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