When Experiments Travel: Clinical Trials and the Global Search for Human Subjects

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9780691126579: When Experiments Travel: Clinical Trials and the Global Search for Human Subjects
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The phenomenal growth of global pharmaceutical sales and the quest for innovation are driving an unprecedented search for human test subjects, particularly in middle- and low-income countries. Our hope for medical progress increasingly depends on the willingness of the world's poor to participate in clinical drug trials. While these experiments often provide those in need with vital and previously unattainable medical resources, the outsourcing and offshoring of trials also create new problems. In this groundbreaking book, anthropologist Adriana Petryna takes us deep into the clinical trials industry as it brings together players separated by vast economic and cultural differences. Moving between corporate and scientific offices in the United States and research and public health sites in Poland and Brazil, When Experiments Travel documents the complex ways that commercial medical science, with all its benefits and risks, is being integrated into local health systems and emerging drug markets.


Providing a unique perspective on globalized clinical trials, When Experiments Travel raises central questions: Are such trials exploitative or are they social goods? How are experiments controlled and how is drug safety ensured? And do these experiments help or harm public health in the countries where they are conducted? Empirically rich and theoretically innovative, the book shows that neither the language of coercion nor that of rational choice fully captures the range of situations and value systems at work in medical experiments today. When Experiments Travel challenges conventional understandings of the ethics and politics of transnational science and changes the way we think about global medicine and the new infrastructures of our lives.

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"This thoughtful and reflective book offers us a sobering account of the spread of clinical research in a world without borders and often without norms. Based on careful comparative anthropological research, it both casts light on a gray zone where research, medicine, and capitalism merge, and provides a first-rate example of how an anthropology for the twenty-first century can contribute to our understanding and to the public good."--Paul Rabinow, author ofMarking Time


"This superb book provides the best overview of the pharmaceutical industry's rush to move clinical trials to developing countries, and the intensely troubling moral, political, economic, and cultural issues this effort raises. Petryna's argument is balanced and compelling, and her case studies are riveting."--Arthur Kleinman, M.D., Harvard University


"This is a very important book, notable for its novel subject, innovative approach, and seriousness. A singular contribution to the anthropology of science and medicine."--Veena Das, Johns Hopkins University


About the Author:

Adriana Petryna is associate professor of anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of the award-winning Life Exposed: Biological Citizens after Chernobyl (Princeton) and the coeditor of Global Pharmaceuticals: Ethics, Markets, Practices.

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