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I was told about a book "The Body Hunters: Testings New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients" by Sonia Shah. It was published by The New Press, and it had an approving quote from Publisher's Weekly on the site. (Among others, it also had one from John Le Carre, although I don't know he has any credentials.)

The claim is that very poor and sick Africans are used for pharmaceutical testing because they're desperate and the pharma companies don't have to abide by any ethical standards. They can collect data cheap.

Is this true?

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    It certainly has been true in the past. You need to specify a time range for your question to have any meaning. (But also note that your question is iffy in regard to citing a "notable source" as required by site rules.) – Daniel R Hicks Feb 14 at 3:14
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    @DavidThornley As it stands right now the claim you want examined is slightly amorphous. How many very poor and sick Africans are used? How poor is very poor? When I skim the opening of the book available on Amazon, I find a specific answerable claim that does not really match the claim you want examined. – BobTheAverage Feb 14 at 4:17
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    The trend within the drug industry to conduct their experimental drug trials in poor countries is, as yet, in its infancy. But it is growing fast. Major drugmakers such as GlaxoSmithKline, Wyeth and Merck -- already conducting between 30 and 50 percent of their experiments outside the United States and Western Europe -- plan to step up the number of their foreign trials by up to 67 percent by 2006, according to USA Today. [Page xi] – BobTheAverage Feb 14 at 4:19
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    I think that some phrase like "in third-world countries" should be added to the title. When I read the current title I was thinking "if a clinical trial has a fixed amount of compensation, then it would be more appealing the poorer a person is." The actual claim seems to be something much more systematic and unethical than that. – Kamil Drakari Feb 14 at 15:49
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    "Testing in poor countries" and "testing unethically" are two different things. I'd hope an answer would address both aspects. – kbelder Feb 14 at 22:23

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