Every drug prescribed by a doctor requires a long journey from the laboratory to your medicine cabinet. All in all, it takes about twelve years, and there exists but a marginal chance that the experimental drug will be approved, approximately a 1 in 5000 chance. As may be expected, there are many stages during this lengthy process, one of which is the initial clinical trials.
Enter the professional guinea pigs, or people who sell their bodies for drug research. During these clinical trials, a small number of perfectly healthy people take the newly developed drug for the first time, and this allows the pharmaceutical companies to identify safe dosages and any possible side effects. The pay is substantial, as volunteers can earn several thousand dollars in just a few weeks. And of course, with an increased number of procedures and risk, the potential to earn more money also increases.
Some people become human guinea pigs because they cannot find alternative work, as perhaps they have a history of incarceration. A few test subjects just cannot find gainful employment because of a somewhat sluggish economy. And others are lured by easy money without much of a time commitment, and thus they can pursue other interests.
Whatever the reason for testing drugs, the possibility of severe complications or even death should not be discounted. There exists an inherent risk because no one exactly knows how the human body will react to the new drug, even if the risk is minimized as much as possible. In 2016, for example, five volunteers were hospitalized and one volunteer died during clinical trials in France.
Preview some of the lesson material:
Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- I consider myself as someone who takes risks.
- I would take a big risk if the money were right.
- People often do dangers or stupid things for money.
- New drugs and medicines are always perfectly safe.
- I have almost died.
Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.
- As may be expected, there are many stages during this lengthy process, one of...
- Enter the professional guinea pigs, or people who...
- And of course, with an increased number of procedures and risk...
- A few test subjects just cannot find gainful employment because...
- Whatever the reason for testing drugs, the possibility of...
post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!
- Do you think testing new drugs sounds dangerous? Why/not?
- What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done? Please explain.
- Is there anything unethical with testing drugs on humans, given the risks?
- Is there anything unethical with testing drugs on animals? Why/not?
- Would you ever want to become a human guinea pig? Why/not?
Google Search: Type "human guinea pigs" into Google. Look at the websites, and/or read additional articles on this topic. Discuss or write an essay about your findings.