- Parent Category: Upper-Intermediate News Lessons
- Category: Health Lessons
- Written by Chris Cotter
It takes about twelve years for every drug prescribed by a doctor to your medicine cabinet. Many drugs which start in the laboratory don't make it. In fact, only 1 in 5000 drugs get the green light for use by humans. And 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. The pharmaceutical companies which develop the new drugs are able to identify safe amounts and possible side effects. Volunteers can earn several thousand dollars in just a few weeks, and so the pay is substantial. Even more money is possible when the risk increases.
Some people become human guinea pigs because they cannot find alternative work. For example, people who have been imprisoned often find it difficult to work well-paying jobs, and so testing drugs proves a good source of supplemental income. A few test subjects cannot find gainful employment because of a weak economy. And others are lured by easy money without being forced to commit much of their time, which allows them to pursue other interests.
Whatever the reason for testing drugs, the possibility of severe complications or even death should not be ignored. There exists real 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.
- In fact, only 1 in 5000 drugs get...
- The pharmaceutical companies which develop the new drugs...
- Some people become human guinea pigs because...
- Volunteers can earn several thousand dollars in just a few weeks, and...
- 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.