Article: U.S. using Africans as 'guinea pigs'
The Associated Press | December 18,2004
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa ó President Thabo Mbeki's ruling party published a stinging attack Friday on top U.S. health officials, accusing them of treating Africans like "guinea pigs" and lying to promote a key AIDS drug.
The criticism reinforces fears of doctors and activists that new questions about the testing of nevirapine could halt use of the drug that's credited with protecting thousands of African babies from catching HIV from their mothers.
The article, published in the online journal ANC Today, was responding to Associated Press reports this week that U.S. health officials withheld criticism of a nevirapine study before President Bush launched a 2002 plan to distribute the drug in Africa.
Documents obtained by AP show Dr. Edmund C. Tramont, chief of the National Institutes of Health's AIDS division, rewrote an NIH report to omit negative conclusions about the way a U.S.-funded drug trial was conducted in Uganda, and later ordered the research to continue over the objections of his staff. Tramont's staff worried about record-keeping problems, violations of federal patient safeguards and other issues at the Uganda research site.
"Dr. Tramont was happy that the peoples of Africa should be used as guinea pigs, given a drug he knew very well should not be prescribed," the article said. "In other words, they entered into a conspiracy with a pharmaceutical company to tell lies to promote the sales of nevirapine in Africa, with absolutely no consideration of the health impact of those lies on the lives of millions of Africans."