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Human Guinea Pigs

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It takes about twelve years for a drug to be researched, developed, tested, and proven safe. Many drugs which start in the laboratory don't reach your medicine cabinet. They may not work well, or may even be dangerous.

The initial clinical trials are an important step in drug development. During these trials, perfectly healthy people take the new drug for the first time. The pharmaceutical companies need to identify safe amounts and possible side effects. Volunteers can earn several thousand dollars in just a few weeks, or make even more money if the risk increases. These people are called "human guinea pigs."

Some people become human guinea pigs because they cannot find other jobs. Others are lured by easy money without much hard work or a lot of time.

Because no one knows how the human body will react to the new drugs, there might be severe side effects or even death. For example, in 2016, five volunteers were hospitalized and one volunteer died during drug tests in France.

Preview some of the lesson material:

Warm Up: Do you agree or disagree? Why?

  1. I am someone who takes risks.
  2. I would take a big risk for a lot of money.
  3. People often do dangerous or stupid things for money.
  4. New drugs and medicines are always perfectly safe.
  5. I have almost died.

Fragments: Remember how the fragments were used, and complete the sentence from today's article.

  1. Many drugs which start in the laboratory...
  2. During these trials, perfectly healthy people...
  3. Others are lured by easy money...
  4. For example, in 2016, five volunteers were...

post-Comprehension: Talk about the following questions in pairs/groups. Remember to support your answers!

  1. Do you think testing new drugs sounds dangerous? Why/not?
  2. What is the most dangerous thing you have ever done? Please explain.
  3. Have you ever thought your life was in jeopardy? If yes, what happened?
  4. What would you do for several thousand dollars? What wouldn't you do? Why?
  5. 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.

Download the lesson:

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