WASHINGTON, Nov. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the US' largest AIDS organization, which also operates treatment clinics in Africa, Central America and Asia, today released this statement in response to a recent Independent (UK) article reporting that pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will be accused of backing drug trials in the US in which underprivileged children were forced to test AIDS treatments against their will. The accusations are lodged in a BBC2 News Documentary scheduled to air tonight in the UK. (Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20030429/AHFLOGO) "These are very serious allegations and we will have to wait to see the facts play out," said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. "If this is true, this is a modern day Tuskegee, when African American men with Syphilis were left untreated by physicians in order to see how the disease would progress. GSK is being accused of exploiting one of our most vulnerable populations." The Independent Online article, published on November 27th, precedes a BBC2 documentary, 'Guinea Pig Kids,' scheduled to air Tuesday evening, states that the program implicates GSK in clinical trials forcing AIDS drugs on deprived children in New York. According to the article the trials have been taking place under the auspices of the Administration for Children's Services (ACS), the body that is charged with looking after the welfare of children in New York. In some cases children were removed from foster homes when foster parents refused to give children the drugs and in other cases children were physically forced by ACS to take the drugs. GSK admits that it supplied drugs for the trials and knew about the clinical trial design but denies direct involvement. GSK responded by saying the "Food and Drug Administration (FDA) encouraged the studies and that clinical trials involving children and orphans are legal and not unusual." "On the heels of the withdrawal of Vioxx and the flu vaccine shortage, issues that have been at the forefront of the media, this is yet another disconcerting red flag that sweeps away any faith that people may have left in our current system. Even with the layers upon layers of bureaucracy that surround this issue, from the welfare administration in New York, to the corrupt drug companies, and now to the FDA -- whose purpose is to ensure safe and effective drugs for Americans -- we are still not safe. This issue should be closely scrutinized and necessary action must be taken -- the FDA must re-examine this issue, and in turn we need to re-examine the effectiveness of the FDA," said Weinstein.
SOURCE AIDS Healthcare Foundation