NEW YORK: GlaxoSmithKline embroiled in scandal in which
babies and children were allegedly used as `laboratory
ORPHANS and babies as young as three months old have
been used as guinea pigs in potentially dangerous medical
experiments sponsored by pharmaceutical companies.
British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is embroiled in the
scandal. The firm sponsored experiments on the children
from Incarnation Children’s Centre, a New York care home
that specialises in treating HIV sufferers and is run by
The children had either been infected with HIV or born to
HIV-positive mothers. Their parents were dead, untraceable
or deemed unfit to look after them.
According to documents, Glaxo has sponsored at least four
medical trials since 1995 using Hispanic and black children
The documents give details of all clinical trials in the US
and reveal the experiments sponsored by Glaxo were
designed to test the `safety and tolerance’ of Aids
medications, some of which have potentially dangerous side
effects. Glaxo manufactures a number of drugs designed to
treat HIV, including AZT.
Normally trials on children would require parental consent
but, as the infants are in care, New York’s authorities hold
The city health department has launched an investigation
into claims that more than 100 children at Incarnation were
used in 36 experiments – at least four co-sponsored by
Some of these trials were designed to test the `toxicity’ of
Aids medications. One involved giving children as young as
four a high-dosage cocktail of seven drugs at one time.
Another looked at the reaction in six-month-old babies to a
double dose of measles vaccine.
Most experiments were funded by federal agencies like the
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Until
now Glaxo’s role had not emerged. In 1997 an experiment
co-sponsored by Glaxo used children from Incarnation to
`obtain tolerance, safety and pharmacokinetic’ data for
Herpes drugs. In a more recent experiment, the children
were used to test AZT. A third experiment sponsored by
Glaxo and US drug firm Pfizer investigated the `long-term
safety’ of anti-bacterial drugs on three-month-old babies.