Medical ethicists have worried for years about the growing share of new drugs whose human trials took place in foreign countries where federal auditors could not make sure patients were protected, but no one knew how big the potential problem was.
But according to a report by Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, 80 percent of the drugs approved for sale in 2008 had trials in foreign countries, and 78 percent of all subjects who participated in clinical trials were enrolled at foreign sites....
The report “highlights a very frightening and appalling situation,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut. “By pursuing clinical trials in foreign countries with lower standards and where F.D.A. lacks oversight, the industry is seeking the path of least resistance toward lower costs and higher profits to the detriment of public health.”
Sure, testing the drugs in lower-income countries is
cheaper, but how sure can we be that the trial subjects are giving informed
consent when foreign drug trial laws are often weaker than