GlaxoSmithKline Argentina Laboratories company was fined 400.000 Pesos (approx 90.000 dollars) by Judge Marcelo Aguinsky following a report issued by the National Administration of Medicine, Food and Technology (ANMAT) for the killing of 14 babies during illegal lab vaccine trials conducted between 2007 and 2008.
Likewise, two doctors, Héctor Abate, and Miguel Tregnaghi- were fined with 300.000 Pesos (approx 70.000 dollars) each for irregularities during the studies.
The charges included experimenting with human beings, falsifying parental authorizations so babies could participate in vaccine-trials conducted by the laboratory from 2007 to 2008.
Since 2007, 15.000 children under the age of one from Mendoza, San Juan and Santiago del Estero have been included in the research protocol, a statement of what the study is trying to achieve. Babies were recruited from poor families that attended to public hospitals.
A total of 7 babies died in Santiago del Estero; 5 in Mendoza; and 2 in San Juan.
Paediatrician Ana Marchese, who reported the case through the Argentine Federation of Health Professionals (FESPROSA), and was, working at the Eva Perón children's public hospital in Santiago del Estero when the studies were being conducted, said in a radio interview that “GSK Argentina set a protocol at the hospital, and recruited several doctors working there.”
“These doctors took advantage of many illiterate parents whom take their children for treatment by pressuring and forcing them into signing these 28-page consent forms and getting them involved in the trials.”
“Laboratories can't experiment in Europe or the United States, so they come to do it in third-world countries.
Colombian and Panama were also chosen by GSK as staging grounds for trials of the vaccine against the pneumococcal bacteria.
Likewise, Marchese, explained the modus operandi: “Once a picked patient arrived, it would automatically disappear to be taken somewhere else in order to be treated by those doctors specially recruited by GSK. These kinds of practices are not legal and occurred without any type of state control, plus they don’t comply with minimum ethical requirements.”
Marchese also remembered that “laboratory trials on human beings are not legalized in Argentina.”
Furthermore, the pediatrician explained that “it is also known that in various particular cases, the doctors who had conducted the trials did not answer the calls made by the worried parents after witnessing their babies’ reactions to the vaccines.”
According to Marchese, “there already exist very good vaccines for the same diseases, but we all know how laboratories work, they only care for their own business.”
To end, Doctor Marchese aimed to Santiago del Estero Governor, Gerardo Zamora, who “never ever came out to stage to comment on the case, and same happened with national deputies and senators that didn’t even bother into discussing a hot topic that was echoed worldwide. I’m also ashamed of the scientific community that also kept its mouth shut.”
GlaxoSmithKline is a global pharmaceutical, biologics, vaccines and consumer healthcare company headquartered in London, United Kingdom. It is the world's third-largest pharmaceutical company measured by revenues after Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer.
Ironically, if one visits GlaxoSmithKline Argentina web site it welcomes the reader with a company disclosure that says: “We have a challenging and inspiring mission to improve the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer.