Advocates’ Protests of Drug Trials Could Result in More Africans, Asians Dying of AIDS-Related Causes, Opinion Piece Says
AIDS advocates' protests of clinical trials of some potential preventive antiretroviral drugs, such as Gilead's Viread, could cause pharmaceutical companies to halt research and development work on new HIV/AIDS medications and result in more people dying of AIDS-related causes, columnist Deroy Murdock writes in a National Review opinion piece (Murdock, National Review, 6/10). At issue is whether researchers should provide lifelong antiretroviral treatment -- not just a referral for care -- to people who become HIV-positive while participating in the trials. Protests organized by ACT UP/Paris and other European AIDS organizations demanding such care have led to the cancellation of Viread studies in Cambodia and the suspension of trials in Cameroon. However, researchers say that offering lifelong treatment to volunteers might violate a prohibition on undue inducement to participate in clinical trials. In addition, some AIDS advocates want injection drug users participating in a Viread trial in Thailand to be provided with clean needles. However, the trials are using U.S. funding, and providing clean needles would breach a congressional ban on the practice (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/24). AIDS advocates who are "militants should desist before they jeopardize even more human lives," Murdock writes, concluding that while AIDS advocates "scream about profits, AIDS silently kills Africans and Asians by the millions" (National Review, 6/10).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.