Your drugs are tested on Russians

It's so difficult to get access to modern health care in Russia that the country is becoming a haven for medical testing — there are more people there willing to be guinea pigs for more stuff simply because they have no other way to see a doctor. This is one of those fun dilemmas where medical testing is necessary, but hard to talk wealthy, healthy people into if they already have access to health care. The result: Drugs and treatments get tried out, voluntarily, on whoever is most desperate.


  1. I think it would be more accurate to say “…but it’s hard to do in a country as litigious as America because untested drugs might hurt people and leave the company liable for damages. It’s also tricky to do in places where there are laws against giving potentially unsafe drugs to anyone, even people dying of terminal diseases.”

    I don’t think you’d have trouble getting people to try out experimental drugs more often in the U.S. if it were legal, especially drugs designed to treat cancer, AIDS, and other fatal diseases.

      1.  And in a far wider variety. Russia tends to get a lot more Phase 3 trials which is when the drug has already gone through the most critical early phases of testing which tend to be done in the states or Western Europe.

        Maybe this is quite different in non life saving drugs like this weight loss thing but cancer drugs tend to target the US first.

    1. “…if it were legal, especially drugs designed to treat cancer, AIDS, and other fatal diseases.” This statement is just not factual. My father was in a clinical trial for drugs AND radiation protocols to treat brain cancer. Several other family members participated in trials for various other life-threatening diseases.

    2. I suspect that fear of lawsuits is one reason, but anticipation of profits is another.  No self-respecting profiteer wants to give away drugs in the U.S., where prescription drug prices are the highest in the world.  They will wait until the drug goes on market, then extort as much as they can for it.

  2. Well, not just Russians.  most of the clinical trials I know of have sites in russia, south america, and eastern europe as well as a couple token ones in western nations where it’s a little harder to find patients. (I work for a CRO that manages clinical trials for drug companies)

  3. Just because you are a guinea pig in a trial, doesn’t mean you are getting treatment.  You might be part of a placebo group, or even worse something else.  My wife for a while ran drug trials, and on one of them she wasn’t even giving the experimental drug or a placebo, she was giving the patient large doses of ibuprofen.  The study wasn’t to see if the experimental drug was effective, it was to see if it would cause ulcers compared to other forms of risky dosing.

    She didn’t last long in that job due to moral concerns.

  4. I had friends in university in Canada who made extra cash by participating in drug trials. I preferred my job at the grocery store but you could make a lot more money in a lot less time if you qualified for a trial!

  5. Several points on this issue:
    1. Drug companies have to test drugs on russians in order to sell said drugs in russia (part of some Putin inspired law to diversify the russian economy).

    2. Most of the drug tests (according to that article) are very low risk tests of new generics.  (Most problems with generics are related to quality control of time release coatings… unless the drugs are made in china or the third world). The article clearly states that these are not Phase 1 and 2 studies (those are where they test drugs on humans to see how much they can give an average subject before they have some catastrophic problem like liver or heart failure.

    3. For unscrupulous/evil/typical drug companies, Russia is the perfect place to buy data/results that will allow them to sell inert/useless “drugs” in the west (see Zyprexa)

    4. Its not that america is so litigious, its that we have rules and protections for research subjects coming down from the feds, medical boards, institutions and finally we do allow people to sue if they are seriously harmed by research.  Good luck in russia.  You can get sent to a gulag there for singing a song that Putin doesnt like.

  6. I suppose in the alternative, drugs should not be tested before they go on the market. That’s what the republicans mean when saying that there should be less govenrment regulations so that busnesses can hire more people and solve the unemployment problem.

  7. So Russians are compelled to participate in drug trials because they can’t afford proper medical care? Wow. I mean, embracing capitalism is one thing but isn’t this going a little too far?

    Medical care in the Soviet Union was free, albeit not always of the highest quality (to put it mildly).

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