Generally, when westerners think of people in foreign lands participating as human subjects in clinical trials, we think of the developing world. That image is somewhat incomplete.
This was from September, but well worth a look at this NYT piece if you missed it:
Russians Eagerly Participate in Medical Experiments, Despite Risks
As a test subject in a Russian clinical trial for an experimental weight loss drug, Galina I. Malinina had to inject herself in the stomach daily. … she threw up every day for two weeks, yet stuck to the regimen, something valued by companies, as dropouts are expensive.
“It’s wonderful,” she said of the test substance, a weight loss serum under development by the Danish biotechnology giant Novo Nordisk. In addition to losing 22 pounds in a year, she said, “I became more lively; I walk easier and I have energy.”
Why go through this? For the same reason that people sign up for clinical trials in India or rural China.
Patients, as was the case with Ms. Malinina, are eager to join trials because often it is the only way to receive modern medical care.
Is this predatory? Are drug companies testing drugs on poor Russians in order to sell drugs to wealthy Americans, Canadians, and Brits? The answer is not so simple. The Russian government, apparently, is pretty excited to provide incentives for drug companies to conduct trials there:
…under a law passed in 2010, ostensibly on health grounds, foreign drug companies must test medicine on Russians for it to be marketed in Russia.