U.S. drug company Endo Pharmaceuticals’ (ENDP.O) gel designed to prevent infection with the AIDS virus was ineffective in trials in Africa, Britain’s Medical Research Council (MRC) said on Monday. The large international trial of vaginal microbicide Pro 2000 in more than 9,000 women in four African countries found no evidence that it reduces the risk of HIV infection.
This raises an ethical question for me, actually two. First, were animal studies on primates done on this product before it was attempted in human women? Second, were these women told not to use condoms in connection with sexual intercourse with infected men or in any other way advised to avoid infection, in addition to using the gel? Because if they weren’t advised to practice preventive practices, they were really put at lethal risk—particularly the women receiving palacebo.
I am not making any accusations. But I am interested to know whether the test would have been approved for women in use in the USA. If not, if subject safety was less rigorous in Africa than it would be here, it would appear to be a case of biological colonialism.
Like I said, I make no accusations, but an inquiring mind wants to know.