BBC TWO Television Documentary Renews Criticism of GSK for Testing HIV/AIDS Drugs in Children’s Home
A BBC TWO television documentary, titled "Guinea Pig Kids," scheduled to air on Tuesday has renewed criticism of GlaxoSmithKline for sponsoring trials of HIV/AIDS-related medicines at Incarnation Children's Center in New York City, Reuters reports (Reuters, 11/30). The New York Post in February reported that 50 HIV-positive foster children from Manhattan's Incarnation Children's Center were involved in 13 clinical trials -- some of which involved combination antiretroviral drug therapy -- that were funded by federal grants and pharmaceutical companies. The children were sent to ICC by the city's Administration for Children's Services. ACS requires parental consent for children to be involved in medical studies. However, if a parent cannot be located, the decision is made by ACS' medical and legal divisions and its commissioner. The state Department of Health had begun an investigation into the studies involving HIV-positive children (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/2). GSK said that regulatory agencies had encouraged the trials so that drugs could be properly prescribed to children, according to Reuters. "Clinical trials involving children and orphans are therefore legal and not unusual," a GSK statement said. However, Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation, said that GSK was "being accused of exploiting one of our most vulnerable populations," according to Reuters (Reuters, 11/30). Vera Sherav, spokesperson for the Alliance for Human Research Protection, said, "They tested these highly experimental drugs," adding, "Why didn't they provide the children with the current best treatment? That's the question we have" (Doran, BBC News, 11/30).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.