15-April-2004 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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INFANTS IN CATHOLIC HOME USED IN DRUG EXPERIMENTS

New York, Apr. 15 (LifesiteNews.com/CWN) - Up to a hundred children infected with HIV, some as young as three months, were used as "guinea pigs" for experimental research by pharmaceutical companies anxious to test dangerous drugs on human subjects, according to the Alliance for Human Research Protection. The children were in the care of a charitable home for HIV infected orphans, Incarnation Children's Center run by the Archdiocese of New York and the New York Administration for Children's Services. The Center was the location of at least 36 experiments since 1995, the alliance said, testing "safety," "tolerance" and "toxicity," of drugs for a variety of illnesses related to HIV infection, including herpes. Drugs allegedly used on the children in the dangerous Phase I experiments, are similar to those used in chemotherapy and often have harmful side effects. In most cases the children's parents were either dead or untraceable.

The pharmaceutical giant Glaxo SmithKline has admitted it provided funds for some of the trials but defended the action saying it is the responsibility of federal regulatory agencies "to ensure all subjects in a clinical trial provided appropriate, informed consent to conform with all local laws."

At the Incarnation Children's Center, the responsibility of granting permission to use the children in drug tests was that of a panel of doctors and lawyers. The actual trials were carried out by Columbia University doctors. A spokesman for the University said that trials stopped in 2000. But New York archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling said the experiments were not halted until 2002. Brooklyn Councilor Bill de Bloasio is demanding that the New York Administration for Children's Services reveal who gave consent for the use of the children.

Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, has written to the Office of Compliance of the FDA, demanding that an investigation be made as to the possible violation of the federal laws regarding human research subjects and informed consent. Sharav said, "The most vulnerable, disadvantaged children are being exploited by powerful entities and used as guinea pigs as if they were not human beings."

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