Dangerous drugs tested on children | The Jackal

15 Jul 2014

Dangerous drugs tested on children

It's been somewhat concerning to see how much the media is manipulating information to try and ensure the current government retains enough support to win the 2014 election. Not only do we have various news outlets continually reporting their biased viewpoints, we often have no proper reporting at all on topics that are of great public importance.

One such story by the Herald on Sunday that was published online, but failed to make it into the print edition, is a good example of just how manipulative the mainstream media is being in trying to hide important information that makes the government look bad.

Last Sunday, Stuff reported:

A drug company has been cleared to test experimental drugs on intellectually disabled people, despite earlier concerns that it was illegal and risky.

It comes amid renewed debate over medical trials conducted on patients without their permission or even knowledge, with the Ministry of Health recently cautioning its Health and Disability Ethics committee to adhere to law after "concerns" were raised about some approved trials.

Drug company Roche Products sought approval to test the safety of a new drug, RG1662, on adolescents and young adults with Down syndrome, which it hoped would increase their IQ.

The initial application included testing on adults in Wellington, Dunedin and Auckland who were not mentally capable of giving consent and had no parents to consent on their behalf.

This is a disgusting travesty that should be receiving the widespread media attention it deserves. Instead the corrupt media in New Zealand is determined to ignore this and other stories that make it clear that many medical institutions under the governments authority have gone rogue.

In April, the ethics committee declined the drug trial. It said it was unconvinced the drug would benefit participants, many of whom could not understand it.

The drug was yet to be proven safe and the potential side effects included increased risk of suicide.

"It was not clear that the proposed research would be in the best interests of the participants," the committee said.

However last week, the committee agreed to approve the trial to proceed with children only, with their parents' consent.

Although a parent or guardian has the right to give consent for treatment on behalf of a child when that child is unable to provide valid consent for themselves, that treatment must be in the best interest of the child.

Nobody could argue that testing dangerous drugs on children, some of whom will be intellectually handicapped, is in their best interests. That makes such drug trials an illegal practice under the current law that was specifically written to protect vulnerable people from abuse.

The relevant laws state:

Health and Disability Commissioner Act 1994 (PDF):

A Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights prescribed by regulations made under section 74(1) shall contain provisions relating to the following matters:

The principle that, except where any enactment or any provision of the Code otherwise provides, no health care procedure shall be carried out without informed consent.

There are no provisions within an Act or the code that allows for dangerous drugs to be tested on children.

New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 (PDF):

Right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation

Every person has the right not to be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation without that person's consent.

Protection of Personal and Property Rights Act 1988 (PDF):

No court shall empower a welfare guardian, and no welfare guardian shall have power,

To consent to that person's taking part in any medical experiment other than one to be conducted for the purpose of saving that person's life or of preventing serious damage to that person's health.

There is no ambiguity about these laws. They clearly show that children should not have dangerous drugs tested on them.

These are not just words that Roche Products, the University of Auckland, the Ministry of Health, the Health and Disability Ethics committee or the Health Minister Tony Ryall himself should be ignoring. They are binding words of law that are meant to ensure people aren't experimented on without their informed consent.

It's bad enough that dangerous drugs are being tested on vulnerable people like mental health patients and prisoners, but when the government allows testing on children, then they need to be stopped. The best way to do that is to vote for a political party that actually has a social conscience in the upcoming general election.