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

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  214 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Hailed by John le Carr� 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 Carr�'s acclaimed novel The Constant Gardener and the feature film based on it.

A trenchant expos� . . . meticulously researched and packed with
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by New Press
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Petra Kiss
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
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
American drug companies more than other countries test their drugs on the poor from other countries. They do not fully inform patients what they are doing and the people are so in need of proper healthcare they really can’t refuse. Often if patients are harmed by the experiments, the drug companies do not cover their care afterwards. The interest is in data and Americans rarely care about how a drug was tested before it came to market. A big problem in the United States and the poor countries is ...more
Karan Sharma
Jun 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Patients hear what they want to hear and they don't hear what they don't want to hear. ...more
David Meyer
Dec 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book provides a fairly honest, interesting look at the world of clinical trials, with a focus on the research done in developing countries. Personally, my feeling is that when done right, the benefits can be felt on all sides, and this book hasn't changed that opinion. Exactly where the line should be drawn to ensure people are properly taken care of while still allowing game changing research to take place is certainly subjective.

There are shameful examples of drug companies taking advant
Dec 16, 2007 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 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. ...more
Mar 05, 2012 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 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
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As someone who works in health care in low- and middle-income countries, I felt like this was an important read. My workplace doesn’t do clinical trials, but reading about how white researchers talked about their non-white test subjects showed the kind of bias and double standards people in the developing world encounter trying to access healthcare. Beyond that, the book showed a wide range of terrible things about the pharmaceutical industry. Every chapter had dozens of new things to feel angry ...more
Aleksandar Ovnarski
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
After "Crude: the story of oil" came a masterpiece about tracking pandemics, but the powerful book sitting before you is one level above: it's startling, shocking, and it's all true. Very few works of scientific journalism can rise to such a height, and this is the one that I would nominate for the highest acclaim, if it were up to me. Even Carl Zimmer would take second place to this book, and you need to read it. ...more
Jun 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: public-health
5 stars for taking a bold stance and bringing to light the hidden cruelties of clinical trials. Let's promote public health over money grabbing and rote scientific progress when human lives are on the line. ...more
Chris Demer
Jul 30, 2012 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 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
Aug 28, 2013 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 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
Feb 18, 2013 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 21, 2011 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. ...more
Feb 11, 2008 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 05, 2007 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. ...more
Kathy McC
Sep 06, 2007 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 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. ...more
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. ...more
Jul 30, 2010 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.
Sep 30, 2007 rated it really liked it
This book is fascinating, but a heavy read.
Mar 28, 2011 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. ...more
Jun 15, 2013 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.
Oct 16, 2007 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
rated it liked it
Apr 22, 2013
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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

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