Views & Reviews REVIEW OF THE WEEK

Exploration or exploitation?

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 08 February 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:317
  1. Ike Iheanacho, editor, Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin (

    Does conducting clinical trials in the world's poorest countries lead to unethical practice, asks Ike Iheanacho

    What a start: having a glowing foreword by John Le Carré must be a coup for any book, particularly one focusing on the attitudes and behaviour of the drug industry. Views from this gifted writer begin Sonia Shah's book and are lavishly quoted on its jacket. Who would not want such high profile endorsement of their work? And yet there are risks for the praised author. The juxtaposition of her words with those of an undoubted authority invites unfair, and presumably unwanted, comparisons with his mastery of the subject and clarity of expression. For the most part, Shah's book is up to such critical exposure.

    Shah's main theme is the often suspect nature of current testing of drugs in developing countries. She develops her argument through retrospective assessment and reportage of the conduct of clinical research. Unsurprisingly, the drug industry comes in for heavy (sometimes one sided) criticism throughout. But, as Shah shows, it is only with the …

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