The poor pay with their lives / Dow rejects proposal to clean Bhopal
2.The poor pay with their lives
As Pharma-Planta and other biotechs head for Third World countries with weak biosafety systems to test their hazardous products, they proceed along a well-trodden path of "out-sourcing" risk to the poor.
"We made an incredible $1.35 billion this quarter," said "Jude Finisterra," aka Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men. "But for most of us, that'll just mean a new set of golf clubs. Let's do something useful instead - like finally cleaning up the Bhopal plant site, or funding the new clinic there." Dow Chairman Bill Stavropolous responded to "Finisterra's" suggestion with a curt dismissal. (item 1)
The bulk of the companies testing their drugs on IndiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s poor will be the MNC pharmaceutical giants. But Indian companies working on genetically modified drugs producing pharmaceutical molecules will also participate.
...Illegal clinical trials conducted in India have resulted in deaths and the matter came to light when it was raised by NGOs before the Supreme Court. In the dock are the Bangalore-based biotechnology company Biocon and the Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotech. Biocon conducted illegal human trials of its genetically modified insulin, without taking permission from the governmentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), a fact that the government had to admit before the Supreme Court. Shantha similarly conducted illegal trials on a drug called Streptokinase. GEAC was quick to whitewash these breaches of law in which poor people lost their lives. (item 2)
1.DOW REJECTS PROPOSAL TO CLEAN BHOPAL USING FIRST-QUARTER PROFITS
May 12, 2005
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The same man who appeared on BBC World TV last December as a Dow representative to announce that Dow would finally clean up Bhopal  showed up today at Dow's Annual General Meeting (AGM) to suggest the same thing to Dow's board of directors and shareholders.
"We made an incredible $1.35 billion this quarter," said "Jude Finisterra," aka Andy Bichlbaum of the Yes Men . "But for most of us, that'll just mean a new set of golf clubs. Let's do something useful instead - like finally cleaning up the Bhopal plant site, or funding the new clinic there ." Dow Chairman Bill Stavropolous responded to "Finisterra's" suggestion with a curt dismissal .
The Yes Men joined other shareholder groups in Midland, including Amnesty International, which condemns Dow's lack of response to the Bhopal crisis as a human rights issue .
BANKERS EMBRACE "GOLDEN SKELETON" MASCOT
Two weeks ago at a London banking conference to which they had accidentally been invited, two "Dow representatives" described a new Dow computer program that puts a precise financial value on human life.
The 70 bankers in attendance enthusiastically applauded the lecture, which described various industrial crimes, including IBM's sale of technology to the Nazis for use in identifying Jews, as "golden skeletons in the closet"--i.e. lucrative and therefore acceptable.
Several of the bankers then posed for photos with "Dow Acceptable Risk" mascot "Gilda, the Golden Skeleton," and signed up for licenses for the "Acceptable Risk Calculator," which helps businesses determine the exact point where human casualties will start to cut into profit, and suggests the best regions on earth to locate ventures with
potentially very high death tolls.
See http://theyesmen.org/hijinks/dow/acceptablerisk.shtml for video
and photos of the event, and http://dowethics.com/risk/ to try out the "Acceptable Risk Calculator" for yourself.
STATE DEPARTMENT FINDS FAKE DOW WEBSITE USEFUL
Dow may not appreciate the DowEthics.com website--but the US State Department finds it quite useful, and refers requests for information about Bhopal to various of its pages: see http://www.dowethics.com/statedeptfoi/ for an example.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
 See http://theyesmen.org/hijinks/dow/bhopal2004.shtml
 Yes Men Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno had been given one Dow "proxy" each by actual shareholders, giving them the right to attend the annual meeting and address the Dow board.
 Two weeks ago, the Sambhavna Trust Clinic of Bhopal opened a new wing to serve the victims whose numbers continue to grow due to groundwater contamination from the uncleaned plant site. See http://www.bhopal.org/ for information on how you can contribute.
 See http://theyesmen.org/hijinks/dow/2005agm.shtml for complete statements and responses, including Yes Man Mike Bonanno's feverish, red-eared tirade in a neck brace.
 See http://www.amnestyusa.org/business/dow_letters.html. See also
2.The poor pay with their lives
Financial Express, Friday, April 22, 2005
India is getting set to become a major center for clinical trials of all manner of drugs. The Indian poor do not know it but they are in the process of being transformed into a stable of guinea pigs on which a variety of drugs, many of them dangerous, will be tested. The bulk of the companies testing their drugs on IndiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s poor will be the MNC pharmaceutical giants. But Indian companies working on genetically modified drugs producing pharmaceutical molecules will also participate.
Clinical trials are a significant cost in pharmaceutical research. Some estimate that in western countries, nearly half the cost of putting a drug on the market is incurred on conducting clinical trials. Given that the pharma industry claims it costs them about $1 billion to put a new drug on the market, the costs of clinical trials could be estimated to be in the vicinity of $400 to 500 million per drug.
Because of the high cost of drug-testing and the fact that volunteers in western countries are much more conscious of the dangers inherent in such trials and are, therefore, unwilling to participate, pharma companies are increasingly conducting their trials in poor countries like India. These trials are both legal and illegal. In any case many poor and ignorant people are being exploited by such companies who pay them a remuneration and do not inform them either about the drugs that are being tested on them or what the likely dangers could be. Conducting clinical trials on IndiaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s poor is condoned by a system that sees this as a high growth area.
There are projections that revenues generated from clinical trials globally could touch something like $30 billion in another five to ten years and many feel that because it offers cheap testing, India should tap into this. Many industry reps in India are of the view that despite the risks, India should embrace the outsourced clinical trials to earn money. This view is not difficult to understand from the industryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s perspective. The industry earns money from drug sales after clinical trials are done and the poor guinea pigs pay the price, sometimes even with their lives.
The explanation that the practice of such clinical trials will introduce world class standards in India wears thin since if 'world class' standards were implemented, the costs of testing would not be as low as they are. At present, drug trials in India are conducted with scant regard to ethical practices. Clinical trials are usually conducted by doctors in large hospitals which earn a fat fee from such trials. There is no informed consent taken from patients, (prior informed consent is a 'world class' practice), who have no clue about the drug that is being tested on them, they are not informed of the benefits and risks of such a trial, nor is there any insurance cover if something goes wrong.
Illegal clinical trials conducted in India have resulted in deaths and the matter came to light when it was raised by NGOs before the Supreme Court. In the dock are the Bangalore-based biotechnology company Biocon and the Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotech. Biocon conducted illegal human trials of its genetically modified insulin, without taking permission from the government's Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC), a fact that the government had to admit before the Supreme Court. Shantha similarly conducted illegal trials on a drug called Streptokinase. GEAC was quick to whitewash these breaches of law in which poor people lost their lives.
The other problem is with government regulations and their implementation. Early this year the government enacted new rules diluting the provisions for clinical trials. In the former set-up, drug trials in India could only be conducted by foreign companies if they had done preliminary tests elsewhere. This was to protect Indians from being used as hapless test entities. Now foreign companies are allowed to conduct trials simultaneously, opening the gates to all manner of unverifiable tests. Along with the relaxed rules, the less-than-stringent implementation by the regulatory authorities is likely to lead to further reckless exploitation of the poor and illiterate as test victims in a situation from which the pharmaceutical industry stands to make huge amounts of money.