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Testing New Medicines: humans for sale

Speakers: Professor Richard Ashcroft, Professor John Abraham, Dr Sarah Edwards and Professor Conor Gearty (chair)
Date: Thursday 15 February 2007


As medical and pharmaceutical advances gather pace, often relying on human subjects for early testing of potential breakthroughs, is there a cost in human rights in all this that should no longer be borne? Or is the testing of such drugs on humans, properly done, a solution to other human rights problems, such as those rooted in disease, ill-health and premature death? The terrible harm done to six such patients in London in the Summer of 2006 was noteworthy more because of where it happened than the fact that it occurred. The World Medical Association has warned pharmaceutical companies and research organisations to stop exploiting poor populations by using them to test drugs which only the rich will be able to afford. The venerable Declaration of Helsinki, first drawn up in response to the atrocities of the Second World War, when prisoners of the Nazis were used for experimentation, has been revised to address the challenges of today.

Richard Ashcroft is Professor of Biomedical Ethics at Queen Mary, University of London.

John Abraham is Professor of Sociology and Co-director of Centre for Research in Health and Medicine, University of Sussex.

Sarah Edwards is Senior Lecturer in Research Governance in the Research and Development Directorate at UCL Hospitals Trust and the Centre for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, UCL

Papers from this event will be posted here soon.