Chasing Medical Miracles



FIFTY million people around the world are guinea pigs in clinical trials testing experimental drugs right now.

In a review found @ http://ukskeptics.twi.bz/a:  "Apart from potentially risking their lives, participants must pass a gruelling battery of tests just to be allowed into some trials. Acceptance only means more tests, side effects and considerable disruption to their daily lives. So what's in it for them?

"As journalist Alex O'Meara explains in Chasing Medical Miracles, some take part out of genuine altruism, while some are looking for cures for their own illnesses. O'Meara, a lifelong diabetic himself, volunteered for a risky transplant of insulin-producing cells from the liver, and his story permeates the book.

"More often than not, O'Meara finds, people choose to participate thanks to life's great motivator: money. Clinical trials are big business, raking in $24 billion a year, and the cash they offer as compensation has become a sought-after way to supplement meagre wages.

"This exchange of money, often involving people who are sick and vulnerable, underscores the murky ethical waters in which today's clinical trials are mired.

"The ill often feel compelled to take part in a trial in order to get medical care. Some unscrupulous researchers, frantic to recruit the large numbers needed to make their studies statistically valid, encourage this thinking. It can be hard for ill people to grasp that, at best, they are taking experimental medicine, and at worst, they are taking nothing at all.

"Desperation - for money or medicine - is never a solid foundation for unbiased decision-making. How can a researcher be sure a person is truly providing informed consent? And if a person gets better on an experimental drug, what happens when the trial, and their drug supply, end."
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