Shah, Sonia. The Body Hunters : Testing New Drugs On The World´s Poorest Patients. 2006. New Press. New York, USA.

The author of CRUDE has written another excellent, well–researched book – this time about the unscrupulous behaviour The Body Hunters by Sonia Shah: A Book Review by Theresa Wolfwood.of the mega–sized drug corporations of the world.

John le Carre says in his introduction: “….Imagine the uproar if dozens of drug-trial patients in America were to perish from deadly side effects known to the FDA. Consider the commotion if AIDS babies in Europe were to die while being administered placebos rather than potentially life–saving drugs. These scandals did happen–just elsewhere. In The Body Hunters, investigative journalist Sonia Shah describes drug trials in places like India and Zambia that would have occasioned outrage if conducted in the developed world. The Body Hunters describes how the multinational pharmaceutical industry, in its quest to develop lucrative new drugs, has begun quietly exporting its clinical research business to the developing world, where ethical oversight is minimal, and desperate patients abundant. Faced with crumbling facilities, miniscule budgets and towering health crises, developing countries often encourage these very trials, even as they cause scarce resources to be diverted from providing care toward the business of servicing drug companies.”

The Body Hunters by Sonia Shah: A Book Review by Theresa Wolfwood.She documents how drug corporations fuel their profits by testing drugs on people in the majority world who are desperate for treatment of any kind. The companies abandon their subjects after they have tested a drug that only rich minority world people can afford. Many, along the way, supposedly professionals who care about health, get bought off – doctors, clinics, academic researchers and politicians. Profit, not ethics are what this is all about. Read this and be aware of our own role in the corporate colonization of the poor and unsuspecting.

She writes, “The drugs that enabled me to survive an emergency caesarian section, those that allow my son to breathe despite allergic asthma, the other ones that correct a hormonal deficit in my mother have been administered to us with success and confidence in part because they´ve been tested in hundreds and perhaps thousands of human subjects in experimental trials… Today, savvy drugmakers loudly publicize new medical products, but conduct the required experimentation quietly. And so, while we exult in, bicker over, and complain about the products of medical research–how much do the drugs cost? who pays? what are the side effects?–the vast business of percolating new drugs burrows underground. If the history of human experimentation tells us anything… it is that the potential for abuse will fall heaviest on the poorest and most powerless among us.”

As the forces of globalization entrenched in international institutions that continue to empower and enrich the few and The Body Hunters by Sonia Shah: A book review by Theresa Wolfwooddrive many in the majority world to desperate measures while we try to get the “best deal” from bloated drug companies, we are going to have to face up to the debt we owe to our brothers and sisters elsewhere. We owe not only our access to cheap raw materials, but our access to available and affordable drugs to the many that cannot afford a chocolate bar, let alone heart medication. If we want to change the world we’d best start at home & demand accountability and access to all aspects of the production of our life support products. Disconnection means irresponsibility and irresponsibility means tragedy and misery for many.

Filed under Book Reviews, Sonia Shah