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July 29, 2014

Big Pharma tests meds on homeless people

Nothing about this sounds ethical. Is Big Pharma Testing Your Meds on Homeless People? — Matter — Medium
Most people think of pharmaceutical research as a highly technical activity that takes place in world-class medical centers. The reality is somewhat different. This is apparent in a grainy video that I watched a few years ago. It had apparently been recorded on a cell phone, and the camerawork started off wobbly. A tanned man wearing sunglasses and a necklace appeared and was introduced as Dr. Johnny Edrozo, a psychiatric researcher. His shirt was unbuttoned partway down his chest. “The latest stimulant coming out of the market is Vyvanse, which is a Dexedrine preparation,” Edrozo told the interviewer, pausing occasionally to chew gum. For reasons that were not explained, the interview took place in a parked car. This was my introduction to South Coast Clinical Trials, a chain of private research sites in Southern California that specializes in testing psychiatric drugs. Pharmaceutical companies now typically outsource clinical studies to contract research organizations like South Coast, which run trials faster and at lower cost than universities do. Their job is simply to follow the instructions of their sponsors. This formula is working: The contract research industry has grown steadily since the early 1990s and may now generate over $100 billion in annual income, according to the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. At the top of the heap are corporations like Quintiles, which has 28,000 employees and operates in about 100 countries. At the other end are private physicians and small companies like South Coast, which are often based in strip malls or suburban office parks. Dan Sfera, the owner of South Coast, has produced scores of web videos like this one, the ostensible purpose of which is to demystify drug research. (The unstated purpose, of course, is to generate business for their psychiatric research facilities.) I visited Sfera and his colleague Don Walters not long after watching the video, and they introduced me to a research subject named Steve, who vouched for the good intentions of South Coast clinic staffers. “I love this place,” he said. “It’s awesome. They don’t treat you like you have a mental illness.” A middle-aged man with a short, gray-flecked beard, Steve was starting an outpatient study of Depakote, a seizure drug that is sometimes prescribed for bipolar disorder. He had arrived at the clinic wearing red gym shorts and bedroom slippers. Over the summer, Steve told me, he’d been hospitalized for four weeks and had received eight rounds of electroconvulsive therapy. As he spoke, his hands trembled so violently that he spilled his coffee on the floor. He seemed preoccupied with his roommate, who he said hadn’t showered for weeks. “The man’s got toenails this long,” he said, holding his fingers inches apart.

OKCupid admits they manipulate results and lie to people, to encourage dating

If I was a paid OKCupid user and found out it was deliberating telling me that good matches were bad matches just to mess with me, I would demand my money back. OKCupid Dating Web Site Says it Lied to Users in Experiment | NBC Bay Area
When you sign up for a dating website, you are supposed to be set up based on your interests, and maybe even your looks. The co-founder of OkCupid.com admitted the online dating web site set up people as part of an experiment. “I think it’s kind of false advertisement,” Michelle Cady said. In one of the experiments, people who were highly compatible were told they were a bad match and vice versa. In another experiment, the website hid singles’ profile pictures for several hours to encourage people to message each other without knowing what they look like. When they brought the pictures back online, many of the conversations stopped. “It shouldn’t become a game to them to see how many people they can hook up together,” Michelle Cady said.