12 Babies die during vaccine trials in Argentina

Buenos Aires, Jul 10, 2008 — At least 12 babies who were part of a clinical study to test the effectiveness of a vaccine against pneumonia have died over the past year in Argentina, the local press reported Thursday.

The study was sponsored by global drug giant GlaxoSmithKline and uses children from poor families, who are “pressured and forced into signing consent forms,” the Argentine Federation of Health Professionals, or Fesprosa, said.

“This occurs without any type of state control” and “does not comply with minimum ethical requirements,” Fesprosa said.

The vaccine trial is still ongoing despite the denunciations, and those in charge of the study were cited by the Critica newspaper as saying that the procedures are being carried out in a lawful manner.

Colombian and Panama were also chosen by GSK as staging grounds for trials of the vaccine against the pneumococcal bacteria.

Since 2007, 15,000 children under the age of one from the Argentine provinces of Mendoza, San Juan and Santiago del Estero have been included in the research protocol, a statement of what the study is trying to achieve.

“Only 12 have died throughout the country, which is a very low figure if we compare it with the deaths produced by respiratory illnesses caused by the pneumococcal bacteria,” pediatrician Enrique Smith, one of the lead investigators, said.

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Antidepressant drugs don’t work – official study

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Six capsules of Prozac

They are among the biggest-selling drugs of all time, the “happiness pills” that supposedly lift the moods of those who suffer depression and are taken by millions of people in the UK every year. But one of the largest studies of modern antidepressant drugs has found that they have no clinically significant effect. In other words, they don’t work.

The finding will send shock waves through the medical profession and patients and raises serious questions about the regulation of the multinational pharmaceutical industry, which was accused yesterday of withholding data on the drugs.

It also came as Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, announced that 3,600 therapists are to be trained during the next three years to provide nationwide access through the GP service to “talking treatments” for depression, instead of drugs, in a £170m scheme. The popularity of the new generation of antidepressants, which include the best known brands Prozac and Seroxat, soared after they were launched in the late 1980s, heavily promoted by drug companies as safer and leading to fewer side-effects than the older tricyclic antidepressants.

The publication in 1994 of Listening to Prozac by Peter Kramer, in which he suggested anyone with too little “joy juice” might give themselves a dose of the “mood brightener” Prozac , lifted sales into the stratosphere.

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