Tories are using the poor for medical experimentation

Seal of approval: We asked TV doctor House MD whether he foresaw any problems with the Early Access to Medicines scheme. "Nuh-uhrr," he replied.

Seal of approval: We asked TV doctor House MD whether he foresaw any problems with the Early Access to Medicines scheme. “Nuh-uhrr,” he replied.

Concern has been raised over a plan announced by Health Secretary (and misprint) Jeremy Hunt to give new medicines to people who are severely ill, years before they are licensed.

In comparison, little has been said about findings by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showing that people in deprived areas live shorter lives and spend more of those lives in poor health.

There is an obvious conclusion to be drawn from this:

If poorer people spend more time in ill health, then they are more likely to be given experimental drugs before those treatments are clinically proven.

In other words, the Conservative-led government is using the poor as guinea pigs for drug trials.

The BBC quoted Mr Hunt: “What patients want is sometimes to try medicines that may not be clinically proven to be effective but are clinically safe. We are streamlining the process so these medicines can be used much earlier – particularly if they have early promise – and that is something which will bring hope to a lot of patients.”

How does he know these medicines are safe? How does he know that people want them? How does he know that they’ll do what they say? He doesn’t.

This shows what he wants – to make the UK a profitable place for pharmaceutical companies by giving them a market for drugs that could be completely useless – or could have unforeseen effects.

It’s more marketisation for our once-great NHS.

Long-term readers will be aware that Mrs Mike has been receiving treatment from the NHS in England, including injections to alleviate the severe back pain from which she suffers.

I asked her if this announcement was worrying for her – as a poor person who has spent much of her life in ill-health.

“Nuh-uhrr,” she said. That seemed conclusive, so I threw her lunchtime slab of raw meat into the cage and locked the door before she could reach me.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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25 thoughts on “Tories are using the poor for medical experimentation

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  3. beastrabban

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Mike draws a further conclusion here about the passage of recent legislation allowing the use of experimental drugs before they have completed proper pharmaceutical trials, and the absolutely Tory contempt for the poor. It has been the Tory and Tory Democrat Coalition that have forced members of the unemployed to take jobs as medical research subjects. Even if this is not a premeditated plan to use the poor as test subjects for the drug companies, I doubt that the Coalition will find the testing of drugs on them at all unwelcome or remotely inconvenient. Unlike the rich, the poor have difficulty affording legal counsel. They have fewer options with regard to their health care, and, unlike the aristos making up the Tory front bench, they most certainly will not cause economic or political embarrassment to the country if something goes wrong. By which I mean, they won’t withdraw all their money from the economy, causing a run on the pound, which is what one foreign billionaire threatened would happen back in the 1980s after his son was thrown out of Eton.

    This is also much cheaper, and much more profitable, from actually having to do something expensive and potentially electorally embarrassing, like tackling the environment causes contributing to sickness or disability. Social Darwinism and eugenics became fashionable in the 19th century because they allowed rapacious and exploitative employers to avoid having to submit to health and safety legislation on behalf of workers left diseased through their industries. Finding ways to stop your workers getting, say, lead poising, ‘fossy jaw’ from the phosphorous they absorbed when making matches, asbestosis or any of the other industrial diseases can be expensive and means further government interfering in business. It’s far preferable for irresponsible big businesses to argue against ‘health and safety’ legislation, and then try and excuse the number of mentally, intellectually and physically damaged people springing up around their factories as all due to genetic faults. Nothing to do with us, Sir! It’s the poor – they’re genetically predisposed to disease. Best if they were sterilised to prevent ’em breeding. This is the attitude on which this is partly based, and to which it may ultimately lead.

  4. Samwise Gamgee

    I think you’re missing the point here.

    Let’s face it, if you were suffering with terminal cancer and all standard treatments had failed, and you were given the chance to take an experimental drug would you turn that down?

    I know I wouldn’t.

    Or would you rather that option be limited to those with access to private healthcare.

      1. Nick

        mike is right Sam I think you’re confusing what Tories say with what they mean.

        never has a conservative politician put the average family first never have never will the same worldwide

        all you can be sure is that if it’s detrimental to you whatever it is they say or offer you it’s best avoided

    1. George Berger

      I would reject the chance. The article and others I have seen suggest that poor people will often be offered sustances that have not gone through “Phase II” trials. That is a minimum condition for licensing. Anything lower is at best an interesting possibility that *can* be medically useful. Now, the modal word *can* allows almost anything, logically. Worse yet, many meds that have passed phase II have been withdrawn, say due to bad side effects, or long-term inefficacy. Also, it would be all but impossible to set-up a phase II trial, given one population of test subjects.

  5. dreamer

    I and my family members with a Rare Genetic Illness have willing signed and given blood samples to Genetic Laboratories in recent times with the hopes it may help others with treatments plus ourselves. Many diseases of which many of the general public have not heard have no treatment available and as an example one form of Muscular Dystrophy is now being given one of these trial drugs which is not licensed as such as pharmaceuticals are not going to invest heavily and to be honest gut feeling from me and other half is please give me and my descendants a chance of life,
    I must add that we have read and absorbed all the specialist paperwork that was given to us. families from all classes suffer with these inherited genetic diseases.

    Sorry Mike but this is one of your posts that I disagree with.

  6. Clutter

    I agree with Samwise Gamgee, Mike. I don’t see this as using poor patients as guinea pigs, quite the opposite in fact. In my experience only private patients have access to experimental &/or unlicensed therapies.

    Unlicensed doesn’t have to mean experimental. The drugs may already be licensed for use in USA, European Union, Australia but not yet in UK.

    If licensed therapies haven’t worked why shouldn’t patients have the opportunity to trial unlicensed and even experimental drugs which may alleviate symptoms and suffering and possibly extend the time they have left.

    If new and experimental drugs have performed well in clinical trials and demonstrate promise and such safety as can be determined from clinical trials, 12 months is a long time to suffer chronic symptoms during the time it takes to license new drugs.

  7. Mike Sivier

    There have been a few comments from people who think this is a good idea.

    I’d like to ask those people: What evidence do you have that this man – Jeremy Hunt – can be trusted? As you are well aware, there is far more evidence – widely available – that he can’t.

    What is to stop these pharmaceutical companies from giving you placebos, at huge cost to the taxpayer? When they don’t work, the response would be, “Ah. Well. They were experimental.” Meanwhile Mr Hunt’s purpose is served as cash is drained from the NHS and deposited in the private sector. He’ll have another excuse to say the health service loses money and accelerate privatisation.

    1. Clutter

      I don’t trust Hunt as far as I could spit him and I’m sure he’s draining the NHS of funds in order to see it fail and accelerate privatisation. I just don’t see where use of unlicensed drugs plays into that.

      Pharmaceutical companies already use placebos as part of double blind and random controlled trials. Why do you think that will become a cost to the tax payer? It’s part of the pharmaceutical company’s product research and development.

      If RCT’s are unsuccessful licensing won’t be applied for. If RCT’s are successful then I don’t have a problem with interim use during the licensing period.

      Many drugs are withdrawn after licensing, sometimes many years after being available for use, due to adverse effects in the larger population that weren’t extrapolated from RCTs.

    2. George Berger

      It might be even more insidious. I see this as an attempt to bypass the European Medicine Authority, as I think it is called. This EU division gives permission for each country to decide about authorisation of a drug. Now, IF the EMA has any decisive power over the conduct of trials, bypassing it would be advantageous to the drug companies and to a government eager to ģain voters. This might be sold to the public as benevolent, but it is not. Trials will be substandard. NOW, I speculate that this is preparation for the coming Free Trade Agreement, TTIP. For it will let drug firms deal with each country individually, and pressure them into accepting their trial and sales conditions, without dealing with any EU entity; that is one goal of TTIP. Convoluted reasoning perhaps, but it is how I see a larger problem.

  8. Thomas M

    The sooner we vote these Tories and their little yellow friends out, the better, before they mess up the entire NHS.

  9. Leoni Al-ajeel

    Disgusting. If the people are suffering with early stages of Alzheimer’s or cancer they should have the right to choose and try these new drugs, but firstly they should be told they are not tested or licensed. But i have a feeling they will not be told, what does it matter to them if people die trying them, we are nothing to the conservatives, they see us all as slaves or guinea pigs. Another money making scam for the conservatives to line their pockets. Hang your heads in shame pharmaceutical companies

  10. amnesiaclinic

    I think you are right Mike to look at this in the broader context. In fact there is now a lot of evidence that other therapies work very, very well but are never given a chance because of the clout of big pharma in making sure that it is only their products that are used. Blogs like Natural news, GreenMed Info
    and Dr Lissa Rankin’s amazing book, Mind over Medicine are widening out the choice for patients and giving the choice and the responsibility back to the patient.

    And as for trusting Jeremy Hunt well the fox in charge of the chickens comes to mind!

  11. Darren

    I would be more concerned that once the drugs had passed Ph2, they would then be withdrawn by the hopelessly unqualified NICE as being “too expensive” to continue.

  12. Karen Hopwood

    I’ve been treated with medicines not licensed for use for the problems I had. The medicines had been tested and seen as safe for the things they were licensed for, but I still feel I was not given enough information to make an informed choice. For example, I was treated with chemotherapy for an ectopic pregnancy, I was told it was the best option to save my life, although surgery could have been used instead. Obviously I survived but was given conflicting information about how long to wait before trying to conceive again. My son born 18 months later now has mild learning difficulties, coincidence? Maybe, but where is the informed choice where the information is not available? I agree with the blog. Especially if you add in the selling of hospital data, so maybe they target these trials at specific areas of Britain ( whose going to bet, the north?) who ultimately benefits from this? I suggest folk go watch Dallas Buyers Club.

  13. Outlaw

    Some very good points raised here, but do you really believe that putting the Labour party back into power will change anything?

    I noticed the Left were not so quick to comment when Blair took this country to war, and scarcely a squeak was heard when Gordy Brown was linked to Scottish Paedophile cover ups.

    Time to man up folks, and wake up to the fact that ALL politicians are self-serving, nose in the trough cowards, who care for nothing but their position and how they can hoodwink people into voting for them.

    Tories are truly Scum, but only marginally more so than Neo Labour..

    Google Labour25… I know you want to, but just like the current shower of lying shitbags in power, the left will stick their fingers in their ears and hope people have short memories.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I was going to ask what Labour has to do with this, as it’s a deeply questionable idea, no matter who puts it forward.

      Then I read the rest of your post and realised you’re one of these lunatics who’s determined to claim that Labour’s full of paedophiles on the basis that a few members may have been found to have links to those activities.

      This just in: Labour is a VERY large organisation. Criminal activity by some of its members does NOT incriminate the whole party. Those who commit such acts cannot be said to be representing Labour when they do so – not can they, or anybody else, claim that their actions are representative of the Labour Party as a whole.

      Time to man up, Outlaw, and wake up to the fact that you’re living a fantasy and trying to sell it to us as fact. We know better.

  14. Judith Robinson

    If you were terminally ill you would try anything..your going to die anyway so why not try! I think there will be very conflicting views on this. My daughter is quadriplegic due to not being able to get the drugs which were not NICE approved that she needed. She now has the drug which works but unfortunately couldn’t get them despite every effort to contact the company who would not give her the drug despite appeals by the medical oncologist ,Had she been given them her outcome from a rare spinal tumor in her C2 would be very different…she would still be walking and leading a near normal life.

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