May 9, 2011
In a special report on global drug trials, Reuters reports that pharmaceutical companies are "seek[ing] cheaper venues for studies and cast[ing] their net further afield for big pools of 'treatment-naive' patients who are not already taking other drugs that could make them unsuitable subjects for testing new ones. ... The drug industry is also paying a lot more attention these days to the promise of emerging markets, whose healthcare authorities, just like those in the United States and Western Europe, are keen to see cutting-edge science conducted in their backyards." The article looks at some of the questions raised as clinical trials increase in areas like Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America: "Is the quality of the data as reliable as that from a top U.S. medical center? Is it safe to extrapolate common clinical effects from studying patients with different lifestyles and genetic profiles? And are ethical standards in testing new drugs properly upheld in poorer countries?" (Hirschler, 5/6).