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When Experiments Travel:
Clinical Trials and the Global Search for Human Subjects
Adriana Petryna

Honorable Mention for the 2014 Diana Forsythe Prize, Committee on the Anthropology of Science, Technology, and Computing of the General Anthropology Division, and the Society for the Anthropology of Work

Paperback | 2009 | $37.50 | £31.95 | ISBN: 9780691126579
272 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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The phenomenal growth of global pharmaceutical sales and the quest for innovation are driving an unprecedented search for human test subjects, particularly in middle- and low-income countries. Our hope for medical progress increasingly depends on the willingness of the world's poor to participate in clinical drug trials. While these experiments often provide those in need with vital and previously unattainable medical resources, the outsourcing and offshoring of trials also create new problems. In this groundbreaking book, anthropologist Adriana Petryna takes us deep into the clinical trials industry as it brings together players separated by vast economic and cultural differences. Moving between corporate and scientific offices in the United States and research and public health sites in Poland and Brazil, When Experiments Travel documents the complex ways that commercial medical science, with all its benefits and risks, is being integrated into local health systems and emerging drug markets.

Providing a unique perspective on globalized clinical trials, When Experiments Travel raises central questions: Are such trials exploitative or are they social goods? How are experiments controlled and how is drug safety ensured? And do these experiments help or harm public health in the countries where they are conducted? Empirically rich and theoretically innovative, the book shows that neither the language of coercion nor that of rational choice fully captures the range of situations and value systems at work in medical experiments today. When Experiments Travel challenges conventional understandings of the ethics and politics of transnational science and changes the way we think about global medicine and the new infrastructures of our lives.


"Obama administration officials wondering what to expect from this brewing storm should consult Adriana Petryna's new book When Experiments Travel, which deals with the global clinical trials industry, especially in low-income and middle-income countries."--Helen Epstein, The Lancet

"She succeeds in presenting a balanced set of viewpoints on a variety of concerns about recruiting practices, informed consent, drug safety, the blurring of lines between clinical practice and research, and issues of distributive justice such as drug pricing and access."--K.H. Jacobsen, Choice

"In When Experiments Travel, Adriana Petryna has written a timely book. It provides an important anthropological perspective on the issues surrounding clinical trials and how to make medical research more transparent and accessible to the general public."--Dinesh Sharma, Health Affairs

"When Experiments Travel is a provocative look inside the outsourcing of clinical trials. The issues that it raises are complex and profound. Hopefully, it will spawn further empirical work and influence the terms of the ongoing debate surrounding the ethics and regulation of international research."--Alex John London, IRB Ethics and Human Research

"[S]cholars of the social organization of medicine would appreciate this book for the window it provides into treatment. . . . The book is also an important information source for economic sociologists interested in how a new industry is recontextualized into distant political and professional regimes. Finally, it should be appreciated for the insight it offers into the production of a form of evidence onto which a remarkable amount of importance is placed in contemporary medicine."--Daniel Menchik, Qualitative Sociology


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