Wanna know the best way to test a new experimental vaccine? Give it to unsuspecting poor people. Want to know how to get away with shoddy recruitment practices when you get caught–make sure those poor people are in Latin America. Don’t believe me? Read on.

According tho the Argentina’s food and drug administration, an investigation is being launched into the possible link between an “experimental” vaccine and the deaths of 14 children in Argentina and Panama. Pharmaceutical maker, GlaxoSmithKline, developed Synflorix as a vaccine to combat pneumonia–a noble undertaking–but sources say that the mega-drug maker may have used dubious tactics to recruit volunteers. One watchdog group says that many participants were not told of the experimental nature of the vaccine. “They didn’t explain to the parents that this was an experimental vaccine, and a lot of the parents who signed consent forms were illiterate,” said Ana Maria Marchesse, a pediatrician who heads the Health Professionals’ Labor Association in the northern Argentine province of Santiago del Estero, where seven of the 14 children died.

GlaxoSmithKline defends itself by saying that safety is always their utmost concern. In fact, they say, the number of pneumonia deaths among the experimental group was four times less than in the general population. Not bad numbers.

But “Uh, uh, uh, no, no, no…,” say doctors in the Santiago del Estero region of Argentina. They report that they witnessed “poor ethical management” of patient recruitment. “In some cases, they first gave them the vaccine and then gave them a 13-page consent form to sign that I had to read three times to understand,” Dr. Marchesse added.

A case of he said, she said? Hmmm…what do you think? I think we’ll be hearing more of this in the near future.

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