Like a lot of people, the recent Swine Flu epidemic totally freaked me out. Not only was I concerned that my child might contract the virus, but I was also leery of the vaccine intended to prevent it. While I am not an anti-vaccine proponent by any stretch of the imagination, I do have what I consider to be a healthy fear of injecting untested substances into my child’s body. As it turns out, my 9-year-old contracted H1N1 before the vaccine became available and I was therefore spared having to make the decision of whether or not to vaccinate her against it.
But while I may have breathed a sigh of relief at having dodged that particular needle, some parents are actually lining up to have their kids injected with a brand new and untested H1N1 vaccine. Despite an informed consent form that details potential side effects including nerve pain, convulsions, neurological disorders and autoimmune diseases, some parents in Australia are allowing doctors to test a new GlaxoSmithKline H1N1 vaccine on their children.
Why would a parent subject their child to this? According to an industry whistle-blower, they aren’t all motivated by an altruistic desire to help mankind. Many of them are doing it for the money.
According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), offering inducements to encourage people to take part in clinical trials is “ethically unacceptable.” However, it is perfectly ethical for drug companies to reimburse for “reasonable expenses” incurred as a result of taking part in such trials. And that, says the whistle-blower, is where the problem lies.
Parents of children as young as six months are being paid $300 to allow doctors to inject their kids with untested drugs. Some cash-strapped parents are showing up at the clinics with three kids in tow, making nearly $1000 for what amounts to three lab visits.
Of course, medical experts advise against creating this type of profit motive. Kids should only participate in a drug trail if it is somehow in their best interest. Frankly, I can’t imagine any scenario where it would be in a child’s best interest to test a drug to treat an illness they don’t even have. Without the cash incentive, who would do it? Certainly not me. What about you? Would you allow your child to be used as a human lab rat in order to benefit science? Or to help pay off some bills?
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