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Ethics and Clinical Trials in Resource Limited SettingsGeorge M. Carter, Director, Foundation for Integrative AIDS Research (FIAR), Brooklyn, NY, USA
Overview Academic Cultural Political Intersections and Actions©
Ethical Guidelines Ethics are the study of values and customs of a person or group. Local may conflict with universal. The Helsinki Declaration reflects international values. See The Nuremburg Code: Belmont Report: Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences ©
Autonomy, Beneficence & JusticeAutonomy: respect for individual rights, views, actions. Special concerns for children, pregnant women, fetuses, competence impaired, prisoners Beneficence: Maximizing the potential for benefit, minimizing risks Justice: “This principle requires that participants be treated fairly and involves questions such as: Who should bear the risks of research, and who should receive its benefits?” ©
General Clinical Trial Elements - IA clinical trial should answer a specific question WHAT to study – what is the intervention? HOW to study it – what is the clinical trial design? What OUTCOME is anticipated – surrogate markers or clinical endpoints? Primary and secondary endpoints? What RISKS do trial participants place themselves in? ©
General Clinical Trial Elements - IINumber of Subjects (n) Primary (and secondary) Outcomes Clinical endpoints Surrogate marker endpoints Randomization Blinding: Single, Double Informed (or “understood”) consent Statistical analysis ©
Clinical Trial Design Institutional Review Boards (IRB) should act as guides to assure the highest ethical standards are maintained Data Safety Monitoring Boards (DSMB) help protect against adverse events IRBs and DSMBs must have community input! Excellent resources for clinical trial design: and ©
Community Input Involve stakeholders at all levels Protocol DesignIRB membership with voting rights Informed consent development Monitoring and follow-up Study result dissemination Access to care ©
Local Cultural BeliefsCultures are always complex; members of society often face stigma/discrimination Women’s role in society Males who have sex with males Other sexual minorities Sex workers “Recreational” Drug Users Religious beliefs may enhance/diminish ©
CAM: Many Therapies “Complementary/Alternative Medicine”The body of studies growing, slowly Disease progress/ARV side effect management Multivitamin/mineral DB RCT studies: Reduce morbidity/mortality Thai study, Jiamton et al. AIDS 2003;17: Slow HIV progression 30% Tanzanian study, Fawzi et al. NEJM, 2004;351(1):23-32 Yet not part of HIV standard of care ©
Traditional Healers: First LineThe Gandeepam Experience Prevention and condoms Use of the term “cure” Treatment and outcomes Listening and engaging Complex communities Women’s/Children’s rights ©
Gandeepam: Siddha Tamil Nadu – a high HIV prevalenceSiddha – Traditional medicine system (distinct from Ayurveda) Diagnosis – Based on patient evaluation, pulse taking, urinalysis Treatment – Diet, Exercise, Botanicals/Minerals Gandeepam – operates with many other NGOs Individuals see clinical improvement: weight gain, reduced pain, OIs resolve: does it work? ©
Intellectual PropertyIf it works—who benefits? FIAR’s Response People living with HIV/AIDS: Authority and power of choice Access must trump privilege of profit ©
Barriers to Ethical IntegrityTreatment and Prevention are inextricably linked So too: Ethics and Clinical trials part of this matrix Lack of access to care, nurses/physicians, treatments, prevention— renders informed consent less meaningful: options must be discussed Distorts risks/benefits if benefits of existing treatment denied Creates “guinea pig” human research Input of civil society essential ©
Politics and PREP “Pre-Exposure” prophylaxis using tenofovirBased on a study of a few macaques Recent data: it doesn’t work: Intensive counseling and condom distribution works What happens to people who become HIV+? ©
Envelope Vaccines env vaccines studied for over a decadeLittle evidence for purported efficacy Pentagon pushes trials to continue: Volunteers pay with risk of HIV infection Taxpayers pay for bad studies Waste of time, money and life Destroys volunteers’ trust Is there Justice? ©
Privatized R&D: Impact on EthicsThe privatized approach to drug discovery has been perverted by distortions in patent law that benefit stockholders (not necessarily discoverers). Health care access in my country is horrific due to privatized healthcare access: 47 million of us are uninsured, yet 15-17% GDP on healthcare costs. Profit interests are not patient interests. Governments must serve citizen interests before corporate interests. ©
“Privatized” R&D… Industry lie: It costs $800 million to bring a drug to market Industry lie: IP rights encourage R&D – yet pipelines are shrinking Industry threat: Do not pay our prices, we will cease research Holding people’s lives hostage for profit ©
Economic Genocide? Glaxo SmithKline blocked access to Duovir in GhanaAbbott refused Thailand access to ritonavir and lopinavir/ritonavir – except at exorbitant cost US government creates TRIPS-Plus Unilateral trade agreements Abbott sues ACT UP/Paris People with HIV/AIDS die ©
PEPFAR: Slush fund for Pharma?FDA becomes global watchdog… …but can’t take care of its own back yard WHO Prequalification dismissed, GFATM derailed PEPFAR fails to utilize generics More people die “Abstinence only” fails – yet is funded Gag rule on working with Sex Workers, a nexus of new infections Needle access programs fought ©
G8: Breaks Promises More hot air at recent summit: Stephen Lewis’s critique: $60 billion – over a year? 10 years? A century? For what exactly? Generics? Healthcare workers? 5 million proposed, 11 million will need treatment 2 million more will die by 2010 just in South Africa ©
Pharma: Assets Pharmaceutical company assets may exceed many nations’ Gross Domestic Product The current global drug market is $520 billion Governments and officials kowtow to the power and money “Democracy” transforms into Corporate Feudalism Science turned into a marketing tool One example Bero, et al. PLoS Medicine | June 2007 | Volume 4 | Issue 6 | e184 ©
Power of the People Democracy only works with Civil Society’s full engagement The hegemony of Greed must be stopped Can NGOs/Civil Society conduct our own clinical studies? Non-violence in the face of violence Engage and involve stakeholders ©
What to do? Policy strugglesIn the US: Single Payer Healthcare Patent Reform: Reward discoverers, not stockholders; improve patent office Greater public investment in Clinical Trials through Phase IV Stronger international ethics adherence, monitoring Conflicts of interest laws with teeth Price controls on drugs, devices and diagnostics More compulsory licenses needed ©
People Living with HIV All have experience and insightsMany have expertise More learning every day RESEARCHERS MUST LISTEN! Greater and more meaningful involvement at all levels of decision-making ©
Books to read Marcia Angell, MD. The Truth About the Drug Companies. Former senior editor, New England Journal of Medicine, Random House, New York, NY: 2004 Peter Rost, MD. The Whistleblower, former Vice President, Pfizer. Soft Skull Press, New York, NY:2006 John Abramson, MD. Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine. HarperCollins, New York, NY:2004. Katharine Greider. The Big Fix: How the Pharmaceutical Industry Rips Off the American Consumer. Public Affairs, New York, NY:2003. ©
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