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The Professional Guinea Pig: Big Pharma and the Risky World of Human Subjects

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The Professional Guinea Pig documents the emergence of the professional research subject in Phase I clinical trials testing the safety of drugs in development. Until the mid-1970s Phase I trials were conducted on prisoners. After that practice was outlawed, the pharmaceutical industry needed a replacement population and began to aggressively recruit healthy, paid subjects, The Professional Guinea Pig documents the emergence of the professional research subject in Phase I clinical trials testing the safety of drugs in development. Until the mid-1970s Phase I trials were conducted on prisoners. After that practice was outlawed, the pharmaceutical industry needed a replacement population and began to aggressively recruit healthy, paid subjects, some of whom came to depend on the income, earning their living by continuously taking part in these trials. Drawing on ethnographic research among self-identified “professional guinea pigs” in Philadelphia, Roberto Abadie examines their experiences and views on the conduct of the trials and the risks they assume by participating. Some of the research subjects he met had taken part in more than eighty Phase I trials. While the professional guinea pigs tended to believe that most clinical trials pose only a moderate health risk, Abadie contends that the hazards presented by continuous participation, such as exposure to potentially dangerous drug interactions, are discounted or ignored by research subjects in need of money. The risks to professional guinea pigs are also disregarded by the pharmaceutical industry, which has become dependent on the routine participation of experienced research subjects. Arguing that financial incentives compromise the ethical imperative for informed consent to be freely given by clinical-trials subjects, Abadie confirms the need to reform policies regulating the participation of paid subjects in Phase I clinical trials.


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The Professional Guinea Pig documents the emergence of the professional research subject in Phase I clinical trials testing the safety of drugs in development. Until the mid-1970s Phase I trials were conducted on prisoners. After that practice was outlawed, the pharmaceutical industry needed a replacement population and began to aggressively recruit healthy, paid subjects, The Professional Guinea Pig documents the emergence of the professional research subject in Phase I clinical trials testing the safety of drugs in development. Until the mid-1970s Phase I trials were conducted on prisoners. After that practice was outlawed, the pharmaceutical industry needed a replacement population and began to aggressively recruit healthy, paid subjects, some of whom came to depend on the income, earning their living by continuously taking part in these trials. Drawing on ethnographic research among self-identified “professional guinea pigs” in Philadelphia, Roberto Abadie examines their experiences and views on the conduct of the trials and the risks they assume by participating. Some of the research subjects he met had taken part in more than eighty Phase I trials. While the professional guinea pigs tended to believe that most clinical trials pose only a moderate health risk, Abadie contends that the hazards presented by continuous participation, such as exposure to potentially dangerous drug interactions, are discounted or ignored by research subjects in need of money. The risks to professional guinea pigs are also disregarded by the pharmaceutical industry, which has become dependent on the routine participation of experienced research subjects. Arguing that financial incentives compromise the ethical imperative for informed consent to be freely given by clinical-trials subjects, Abadie confirms the need to reform policies regulating the participation of paid subjects in Phase I clinical trials.

41 review for The Professional Guinea Pig: Big Pharma and the Risky World of Human Subjects

  1. 4 out of 5

    Krissy

    Abadie does a good job writing this book in layman's terms. Although the anarchist guinea pigs of Philadelphia are only a small drop in the bucket of who participates in phase 1 drug trials, it was interesting to read about their points of view and how they've formed their own subculture. It was an interesting read that flies by quite quickly. If you're interested in getting your feet wet in the lives of people undertaking drug tests and the system as a whole I suggest you pick it up. Note: Look Abadie does a good job writing this book in layman's terms. Although the anarchist guinea pigs of Philadelphia are only a small drop in the bucket of who participates in phase 1 drug trials, it was interesting to read about their points of view and how they've formed their own subculture. It was an interesting read that flies by quite quickly. If you're interested in getting your feet wet in the lives of people undertaking drug tests and the system as a whole I suggest you pick it up. Note: Look into Tuskegee trials.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Tanvi

  3. 4 out of 5

    Angie

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea Mcmullen

  5. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I won't finish this and found the writing disorganized, so that's that. I won't finish this and found the writing disorganized, so that's that.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Suzie

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    Maggie Michael

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    Toby

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    Sarah Pathak

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    robert

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    Gioia Skeltis

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    Olivia Bolner

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    Aubrie

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    Ashley Sanks

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    Miranda W.

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    Duke Press

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    Duke Press

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    Afryst

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    Rima

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    Richard Ashcroft

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    Itzel Dominguez

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    Rachel Zand

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    Alissa

  38. 5 out of 5

    Kate Gaudreau

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    Jorge

  40. 4 out of 5

    Will Spiller

  41. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

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