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The Body Hunters: Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  139 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Hailed by John le Carré as "an act of courage on the part of its author" and singled out for praise by the leading medical journals in the United States and the United Kingdom, The Body Hunters uncovers the real-life story behind le Carré’s acclaimed novel The Constant Gardener and the feature film based on it.

"A trenchant exposé . . . meticulously researched and packed wi
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by The New Press
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Petra Eggs
This book is quite a frightening exposé of the American drug industry and how the FDA and the Government all conspire to keep it as the highest profit industry in the country.

Three things I've learned:

1. If you ask your doctor for meds you've seen advertised on the tv and he happily prescribes them, you need to change your doctor. He should be doing the diagnosing and prescribing, not you. Drug advertising began because doctors didn't prescribe enough drugs to satisfy big Pharma, so they advert
Gin Jenny (Reading the End)
This review first appeared on

Somebody recommended The Body Hunters when I reviewed Bad Pharma earlier this year, and I’m pleased that I was able to get and read it so soon! The author, an investigative journalist, here examines the ethics of biomedical research — specifically, of American drug companies outsourcing clinical trials to companies with laxer ethical requirements than the US and large populations of sick patients to run tests on. It’s a fairly widespread pra
Rawa Muhsin
Jan 02, 2016 Rawa Muhsin rated it it was amazing
I became somewhat disillusioned of medical research and medical journals. I could say even medical guidelines. It seems the pharmaceutical industry and economic profits have a considerable hand in shaping what matters in medical research, how it is carried out, and what is displayed.

The prime focus of the book is ethical lapse of carrying out trials (espcially placebo-controlled ones) in poor countries with:

1. no proper consent from patients (or in other words no system to track whether the cons
Dec 20, 2007 Bridget rated it really liked it
Shelves: drugs
This book was a pleasant surprise. It details the growth in the testing of prescription medicines on persons living in poor nations, and how the medical community has justified the lowered standard of safety and informed consent that is often used. An upsetting book, since essentially what it documents is how drug companies test medicines for wealthy, rich nations on the poorest people in the world, even though they'll likely never get access to these drugs. The twisting of ethics is fairly horr ...more
Apr 27, 2009 Young rated it it was amazing
Educational. Clear. Informative. Eye-opening. I really learned a lot about the pharmaceutical companies role and drug testing in developing nations. It gave a brand new perspective on this industry. This was an industry that I used to work in and never even knew that something like this was happening and the horrible impact of it on peoples of developing nations. A great book for activists.
Catherine Woodman
I read this book in preparation for a PRIMR book conference on ethics--well, this is kind of irritatingly over the top, with an axe to grind that makes it hard to focus on the reall issues that are here--doing ethical trials in the third world. I think the author's heart is in the right place, but she is so biased that it dilutes the argument (for me) which is that we need to hold the same standards for trials in the third world that we do here.
May 02, 2012 Karen rated it really liked it
Long Story Short: I believe every word in this book about the ethical perils and injustices of medical testing, but I’m not sure at all what to do about it.

Why I Chose This Book: I’m not really tuned in to the new releases, and a lot of what I find to read crosses my path indirectly. This time, however, I crossed this book’s path directly: I was wandering through the library seeing if something would catch my fancy, and this book was one of the ones placed on a library shelf, propped on a bracke
Rachel Castelino
Nov 20, 2016 Rachel Castelino rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed The Body Hunters, because it was a nuanced look into how pharmacological testing is shaped - how the parameters of the testing are set up to sell us more expensive drugs, how there isn't nearly enough funding for less profitable drugs, and how poor communities are used for testing in a way that isn't always ethical. I liked that Shah didn't make it a series of terrible stories without context - she clearly shows that we need medical testing, but also did a great job showing how ...more
Chris Demer
Jul 30, 2012 Chris Demer rated it it was amazing
The subtitle says it all - "Testing New drugs on the World's poorest Patients"

This is a well written, brilliantly investigated expose of drug companies, the FDA, and contract research organizations (CROs) and how they conspire to seek out the most underprivileged among us to test new drugs for their markets, which are mostly developed nations where patients and/or their insurers will pay inflated prices for them.
In developing these drug trials, short shrift is given to informed consent, excuses
D Books
Sep 29, 2011 D Books rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Pharmaceutical companies are exposed in this book for their horrendous actions upon human beings in developing countries (South Africa, Thailand, India, and etc). Similar deceitful “medical research” tactics that occurred during the Tuskegee Syphilis Study are occurring in other nations in this present day and age. The reason why the average American doesn’t know about these types of studies is because the pharmaceutical companies do not want anyone to know and are hiding it fairly well among th ...more
Sep 16, 2013 Amanda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-library
Working at a hospital that offers hundreds of clinical trials, I have been introduced to all the major pharmaceutical and CRO companies that deal with trials, not just here but all over the world. This book interested me since I had that familiarity with trials but only see them in a domestic setting. After reading this book, I now have an understanding of just how far and low these companies will go to get their drugs out on the market and making money. I had no idea half of these scenarios wer ...more
Sean Bailey
Jan 10, 2012 Sean Bailey rated it really liked it
Every so often you pick up a book or watch a movie/show that just opens your eyes. In this case it was the pharmaceutical industry, after reading The Body Hunters, written by journalist Sonia Shah in 2006. It’s been a couple of months or so since I finished reading it and I still feel angry at some issues I came across. There are so many that I came across, but I’ll try and touch on only a few. It’s definitely a book worth picking up.

My full review:
John Ison
Mar 02, 2013 John Ison rated it liked it
Informative analysis of the history of clinical trials in the USA and in the developing world. It raise serious questions about the ethics and effectiveness of human trials, no matter where they are carried out. She also questions the conflicts between creating drugs to treat disease and creating drugs to sell (lifestyle drugs). Everyone gets attacked: the FDA, the NIH, doctors, researchers, drug companies, academic researchers, advertisers, advertising, developing countries. It's all a mess. It ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Jeannie rated it liked it
Shelves: i-own
Way more information than I wanted to know, it was just too technical for me. I wanted to learn more about the people used in the testing than the pharmaceutical companies. It's a shame this goes on in our world.
Feb 20, 2008 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting book. New alot of this stuff already from other classes, but very intersting to see the whole picture together. I think ACP did a good job by requiring this book to be read in HCHV. I would suggest this to any inquiring minds who are interested in ethical debates.
Nov 13, 2007 Caroline rated it it was amazing
Everyone should read this book. Everything you wanted to know, or maybe didn't want to know, about the pharmaceutical industry.
Kathy McC
Sep 06, 2007 Kathy McC rated it really liked it
Interesting,and sad, non-fiction about drug testing done in Third World countries by American drug companies.
Aug 03, 2008 Weavre rated it it was amazing
It's another make-me-angry book, perhaps, but it's a good and informative one. A little slow at times, but worth reading.
Books written by POC
Just made it through Sonia Shah's The Body Hunters (indictment of Big Pharma's drug research on disempowered peoples); I think I would have been more impressed prior to reading Smith and Roberts.
Jul 30, 2010 Lorene rated it liked it
Fascinating history of drug testing in America and the third world. A little tedious in parts but a real eye opener.
Apr 01, 2011 Wendy rated it liked it
This book made me angry at drugs companies, the government, the FDA, researchers, scientists, etc. I don't think we will ever fix our world.
Jun 16, 2013 Ametista rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook
Il mondo dell'industria farmaceutica non mi è sconosciuto per cui in questo libro non ho trovato nulla di nuovo.
Lo consiglio ai consumatori di farmaci di sintesi.
Aug 25, 2008 Gina marked it as to-read
Need to put this back on my to-read list. Not really in the right frame of mind to read this book now, but i should read it.
James Robinson
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Aug 14, 2016
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Sonia Shah is a science journalist and prize-winning author. Her writing on science, politics, and human rights has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, Scientific American and elsewhere. Her work has been featured on RadioLab, Fresh Air, and TED, where her talk, “Three Reasons We Still Haven’t Gotten Rid of Malaria” has been viewed by over 1,000,000 people aro ...more
More about Sonia Shah...

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