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Drug Trials—the Dark Side: This World

BMJ 2006; 332 doi: (Published 27 April 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;332:1039
  1. Ike Iheanacho, editor, Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (

    An advert posted inside some London buses shrieks, “Drop by today—it could be a beneficial visit!” Placed by the pharmaceutical services company PAREXEL, it seeks volunteers for research—at Northwick Park Hospital. The recent disastrous trial of the monoclonal antibody TGN 1412 at that venue has heightened the public's interest in clinical drug studies. And the long term result may be increased scepticism, such that fewer people in the United Kingdom will be willing to participate in clinical research, no matter how upbeat the recruitment messages.

    In addressing this problem, the pharmaceutical industry is, predictably, well ahead of the game. For instance, clinical trials are increasingly being conducted in developing countries that offer a rich source of suitable and apparently willing patients. Drug Trials—the Dark Side was a compelling documentary on how drug companies are targeting India for this purpose.

    The scene was set by the comments of a patient-recruitment agent, who boasted how much quicker and cheaper it was to enrol patients for trials in India, compared with, for example, the United States and countries in …

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