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More Experiments on Foster Kids

May 4, 2005 permalink

The Associated Press has approached ten states with questions about their policy on using foster children as experimental subjects in medical tests. Besides New York, six more states reported at least some use of foster children. No Canadian news agency has so far asked the same kind of questions. Is there any chance of this scandal spreading to Canada?



How Some States Handle Child AIDS Testing

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 4, 2005; 2:14 PM

-- What researchers, state officials and foster care agencies in various states told The Associated Press about the use of foster children in AIDS drug experiments.

CALIFORNIA: No foster child can legally participate in clinical trials without an order of the state juvenile court. A spot check of several counties said they could not locate any records or officials who could recall ever approving a foster child for an AIDS drug trial.

COLORADO: Carol Salbenblatt, a nurse who recruits children for studies at Children's Hospital in Denver, said there have been very few permanently placed foster children enrolled in studies. "I would say very few foster children have been enrolled and only under very stringent guidelines," she said.

ILLINOIS: At least 193 foster children have been enrolled in nearly four dozen pediatric AIDS clinical trials since the late 1980s, including more than two dozen currently participating, according to records released under a state open records request. None are believed to have been appointed advocates.

LOUISIANA: Tulane University said four foster children have been enrolled in pediatric AIDS trials since 1992, and each time a judge was asked to approve. Nanette Russell White, a spokeswoman for the state foster agency, said three years ago a 16-year-old from Thibodeaux, south of New Orleans, participated in a drug trial after getting "huge amounts of information" on "possible risk or harm. The child didn't suffer adverse effects, she said.

MARYLAND: Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore says some patients who have participated in AIDS clinical trials are foster children, but declined to provide exact numbers. The university does not believe it needs to provide advocates for the children under its interpretation of federal regulations. "Johns Hopkins believes that the opportunity to participate in the PACTG trials should be made widely available and not be denied to children because they are in foster care," spokeswoman Staci Vernick Goldberg said.

NEW YORK: At least 465 New York City foster children were enrolled in AIDS studies dating to the late 1980s. Though city policy required the appointment of advocates, city officials could only find records that 142 got them. The city has asked an outside firm to investigate and also is revising its policy on the use of foster kids in medical experiments.

NORTH CAROLINA: Dr. Ross McKinney, a pediatric AIDS expert at Duke University, said a small number of foster children were enrolled in his studies, mostly during the late 1980s before better treatments were available in the marketplace. He said he always got permission from the state guardian for the foster children and tried to reach the biological parents as well because "it was their child first and foremost, and in most cases foster care was temporary and the children would return to their parents."

TEXAS: State and county officials couldn't locate records about foster children used in AIDS studies, but Dr. Mark Kline, a pediatric AIDS expert at Baylor College of Medicine, said some of the children he enrolled were in foster care, mostly from the Houston area. Kline said he couldn't recall ever appointing advocates for the children but took great care to make certain families understood the risks and benefits.

TENNESSEE: At least since 1990, state law has generally prohibited the use of foster children in medical experiments. "Specifically prohibited from approval is any research that uses juveniles for medical, pharmaceutical, or cosmetic experiments," the latest state foster care rules adopted in 2000 state.

WISCONSIN: State officials said they wouldn't consider medical experiments. "The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services has absolutely never allowed, nor would we even consider, any clinical experiments with the children in our foster care system. Our goal to make sure children are nurtured in safe homes with strong families," spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis said.

Source: Washington Post

Addendum: There is more on this story. The Associated press has another article titled Researchers Tested Drugs on Foster Kids. In case the link dies, here is our local copy.