Cervical Cancer Trials in India

I just came across a story from The Arizona Republic (care of USA Today) that, in some ways, updates an article I wrote for the Indian environmental magazine Down to Earth several years ago.

My 2007 story examined the ethical ramifications of introducing the then-new cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil on a wide scale in India. When a vaccine is taken out of the context of screening and regular medical care, does it carry the same benefit? Or could it actually do more harm than good?

Bob Ortega’s article delves into 2 US-funded research studies of cervical cancer in India. Together, the studies may have prevented up to 100,000 women from being screened and, if necessary, treated. The women instead received health care visits and counseling, and they were monitored to see how many cancers developed.

All this raises many questions, from what is required for informed consent to what constitutes ‘standard of care’ in an evolving health care system. Thoughts?

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