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More 'Guinea Pig' Kids

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Alliance for Human Research Protection

December 31, 2007

by Vera Hassner Sharav

An ongoing investigation by the Vera Institute of Justice, has uncovered 59 additional New York City foster care children--between July and September--who may have been used in AIDS drug / vaccine trials in violation of federal regulations. This brings the tentative total number of mostly minority children involved, to 773.

These children were enrolled in the risky experimental trials in violation of federal regulations. They were used as experimental subjects without legal informed consent and without an independent advocate authorized to serve the children's best interest. The Vera Institute investigation is charged with finding out not only how many children were involved in the experiments and to ascertain what happened to those children.

The investigation by the Vera Institute follows an investigation by the federal Office of Human Research Protections which was initiated by a complaint filed by The Alliance for Human Research Protection March 10, 2004: [Link]

The investigation, however, is being hampered by administrators of Columbia Presbyterian hospital, which had a major involvement in the experimental drug and vaccine trials. Despite repeated requests by the Vera Institute, Columbia administrators have thus far refused to provide access to the medical records of the foster care children who were enrolled in the trials. This is a demonstration of abuse of power by medical institutions that hugely benefit from taxpayer support.
In February, 2006, OHRP found Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) New York /Presbyterian Hospital in non-compliance with federal research protection regulations. See OHRP letter at: [Link]
The number of HIV-infected foster kids under the city's care who may have been steered into experimental drug trials in the 1990s has grown to 773, a report says.
The Vera Institute of Justice, which is probing the clinical trials, says 59 potential cases were added between July and September in response to data found in old case files. When the review began in 2005, the caseload was estimated at 465.
The Administration for Children's Services hired Vera in response to 2004 Post articles exposing the practice in 2004. Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, who's called for independent oversight over ACS, says the new numbers prove her point.
Vera is preparing a report on whether proper enrolling and monitoring procedures were followed.

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