• The Professional Guinea Pig has been awarded the Sociology of Health and Illness Book Prize, presented by the British Sociological Association.

  • The Professional Guinea Pig: Big Pharma and the Risky World of Human Subjects

    Author(s):
    Pages: 200
    Sales/Territorial Rights: World
  • Cloth: $89.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-4814-6
  • Paperback: $23.95 - In Stock
    978-0-8223-4823-8
  • Quantity
  • Add To Bag
  • A Note on Method ix

    Acknowledgments xi

    Introduction. A Guinea Pig's Wage: Risk, Body Commodification, and the Ethics of Pharmaceutical Research in America 1

    1. Guinea-Pigging: The In/Formal Economy of Phase I Clinical Trials in Philadelphia 21

    2. Market Recruitment, Identity, and Resistance among Professional Guinea Pigs 45

    3. Local Knowledge and Risk Management among Professional Guinea Pigs 65

    4. Big Pharma and HIV Clinical Trials: A Case Study 85

    5. Strategies of Survival: HIV Clinical Trials and the Fight for Their Lives 97

    6. From Prisoners to Professionals: A Brief History of the Clinical-Trial Enterprise 121

    7. Ethics and the Exploitation of the Poor in Clinical Trials Research 137

    Conclusion. Living in/off the Mild Torture Economy as Trial Subjects 157

    Epilogue. Following Up: Robert Helms, Frank Little, Dave Onion, and Spam One Last Time 167

    Bibliography 171

    Index 181
  • Winner, 2011 British Sociological Association Sociology of Health and Illness Book Prize

  • “[A] groundbreaking ethnography. . . .”

    “Abadie gives readers a look behind the curtain of phase I clinical trials sponsored by major pharmaceutical companies. . . . Recommended.”

    “Abadie has conducted illuminating research into this topic and the reader is left with the hope that the author continues in this area and offers more detailed insight into the experience of research participants outside his core group for this book, including the issue of clinical trials conducted in the developing world, which has become a increasingly frequent site for drug trials, forming a new and very problematic ethical dimension in drug development research.”

    “Abadie’s absorbing ethnography takes us into the broader lives and artful subjectivities of these diverse professional guinea pigs. The ethnography also delivers the reader into the somewhat antiseptic world of clinical trials and pharmaceutical testing, laying out the terrain and the sore points of this strangely evolving relationship.”

    “Insights gained from Abadie’s work hold benefits for researchers, IRB members, government regulators, and human subjects themselves. With de-individuation of human subjects too frequently the norm, the faces which Abadie describes for us are important reminders that real risks exist and real people may be harmed.”

    “Roberto Abadie penetrates the professional corps of human test subjects in his book The Professional Guinea Pig to uncover often shocking accounts of the lives of professional and semiprofessional test subjects. . . . It is a treat to read an observant and thoughtful account by someone who has escaped the traditional halls of academia, to delve into the world inhabited by the test subjects at the centre of his research.”

    “This book is an important contribution to understanding of current issues related to clinical research. Moreover, it is an invitation to further the public debate and develop policies that are better suited for research subject protection.”

    The Professional Guinea Pig gives voice to volunteers skeptical of the current ethical protections in phase 1 trials, even as they endure the risks of those trials. . . . Readers will learn something about a fascinating counterculture. . . .”

    The Professional Guinea Pig tells a fascinating story at the entrepreneurial and pharmaceuticalized heart of neoliberal medicine. . . . It is a riveting read and makes important contributions to the anthropologies of neoliberalism, pharmaceuticals, and the body.”

    “[A]disturbing account. . . . The Professional Guinea Pig raises important questions.”

    “[An] intriguing and worrying book.”

    “Roberto Abadie has written an absorbing ethnographic study of clinical trials that focuses not on the clinic or the clinicians, the science or its development, but the research participants in phase one trials (the first stage of testing in humans). . . . [A] fascinating description of the subculture of regular drug-trial volunteers.”

    “The book makes a compelling argument for why test subjects in the US should be given more protection - and I take my hat off to the author for arguing the case.”

    Awards

  • Winner, 2011 British Sociological Association Sociology of Health and Illness Book Prize

  • Reviews

  • “[A] groundbreaking ethnography. . . .”

    “Abadie gives readers a look behind the curtain of phase I clinical trials sponsored by major pharmaceutical companies. . . . Recommended.”

    “Abadie has conducted illuminating research into this topic and the reader is left with the hope that the author continues in this area and offers more detailed insight into the experience of research participants outside his core group for this book, including the issue of clinical trials conducted in the developing world, which has become a increasingly frequent site for drug trials, forming a new and very problematic ethical dimension in drug development research.”

    “Abadie’s absorbing ethnography takes us into the broader lives and artful subjectivities of these diverse professional guinea pigs. The ethnography also delivers the reader into the somewhat antiseptic world of clinical trials and pharmaceutical testing, laying out the terrain and the sore points of this strangely evolving relationship.”

    “Insights gained from Abadie’s work hold benefits for researchers, IRB members, government regulators, and human subjects themselves. With de-individuation of human subjects too frequently the norm, the faces which Abadie describes for us are important reminders that real risks exist and real people may be harmed.”

    “Roberto Abadie penetrates the professional corps of human test subjects in his book The Professional Guinea Pig to uncover often shocking accounts of the lives of professional and semiprofessional test subjects. . . . It is a treat to read an observant and thoughtful account by someone who has escaped the traditional halls of academia, to delve into the world inhabited by the test subjects at the centre of his research.”

    “This book is an important contribution to understanding of current issues related to clinical research. Moreover, it is an invitation to further the public debate and develop policies that are better suited for research subject protection.”

    The Professional Guinea Pig gives voice to volunteers skeptical of the current ethical protections in phase 1 trials, even as they endure the risks of those trials. . . . Readers will learn something about a fascinating counterculture. . . .”

    The Professional Guinea Pig tells a fascinating story at the entrepreneurial and pharmaceuticalized heart of neoliberal medicine. . . . It is a riveting read and makes important contributions to the anthropologies of neoliberalism, pharmaceuticals, and the body.”

    “[A]disturbing account. . . . The Professional Guinea Pig raises important questions.”

    “[An] intriguing and worrying book.”

    “Roberto Abadie has written an absorbing ethnographic study of clinical trials that focuses not on the clinic or the clinicians, the science or its development, but the research participants in phase one trials (the first stage of testing in humans). . . . [A] fascinating description of the subculture of regular drug-trial volunteers.”

    “The book makes a compelling argument for why test subjects in the US should be given more protection - and I take my hat off to the author for arguing the case.”

  • “Roberto Abadie has given us a deep, complex, and profoundly disturbing investigation into the dark underside of the clinical trials industry. The Professional Guinea Pig is not just ethnography. It is a call to action.” — Carl Elliott, author of, Better than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream

  • Permission to Photocopy (coursepacks)

    If you are requesting permission to photocopy material for classroom use, please contact the Copyright Clearance Center at copyright.com;

    If the Copyright Clearance Center cannot grant permission, you may request permission from our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Permission to Reprint

    If you are requesting permission to reprint DUP material (journal or book selection) in another book or in any other format, contact our Copyrights & Permissions Manager (use Contact Information listed below).

    Images/Art

    Many images/art used in material copyrighted by Duke University Press are controlled, not by the Press, but by the owner of the image. Please check the credit line adjacent to the illustration, as well as the front and back matter of the book for a list of credits. You must obtain permission directly from the owner of the image. Occasionally, Duke University Press controls the rights to maps or other drawings. Please direct permission requests for these images to permissions@dukeupress.edu.
    For book covers to accompany reviews, please contact the publicity department.

    Subsidiary Rights/Foreign Translations

    If you're interested in a Duke University Press book for subsidiary rights/translations, please contact permissions@dukeupress.edu. Include the book title/author, rights sought, and estimated print run.

    Disability Requests

    Instructions for requesting an electronic text on behalf of a student with disabilities are available here.

    Rights & Permissions Contact Information

    Email: permissions@dukeupress.edu
    Email contact for coursepacks: asstpermissions@dukeupress.edu
    Fax: 919-688-4574
    Mail:
    Duke University Press
    Rights and Permissions
    905 W. Main Street
    Suite 18B
    Durham, NC 27701

    For all requests please include:
    1. Author's name. If book has an editor that is different from the article author, include editor's name also.
    2. Title of the journal article or book chapter and title of journal or title of book
    3. Page numbers (if excerpting, provide specifics)
    For coursepacks, please also note: The number of copies requested, the school and professor requesting
    For reprints and subsidiary rights, please also note: Your volume title, publication date, publisher, print run, page count, rights sought
  • Description

    The Professional Guinea Pig documents the emergence of the professional research subject in Phase I clinical trials testing the safety of drugs in development. Until the mid-1970s Phase I trials were conducted on prisoners. After that practice was outlawed, the pharmaceutical industry needed a replacement population and began to aggressively recruit healthy, paid subjects, some of whom came to depend on the income, earning their living by continuously taking part in these trials. Drawing on ethnographic research among self-identified “professional guinea pigs” in Philadelphia, Roberto Abadie examines their experiences and views on the conduct of the trials and the risks they assume by participating. Some of the research subjects he met had taken part in more than eighty Phase I trials. While the professional guinea pigs tended to believe that most clinical trials pose only a moderate health risk, Abadie contends that the hazards presented by continuous participation, such as exposure to potentially dangerous drug interactions, are discounted or ignored by research subjects in need of money. The risks to professional guinea pigs are also disregarded by the pharmaceutical industry, which has become dependent on the routine participation of experienced research subjects. Arguing that financial incentives compromise the ethical imperative for informed consent to be freely given by clinical-trials subjects, Abadie confirms the need to reform policies regulating the participation of paid subjects in Phase I clinical trials.

    About The Author(s)

    Roberto Abadie is a visiting scholar with the Health Sciences Doctoral Programs at the Graduate Center, City University of New York.

Explore More
Share

Create a reading list or add to an existing list. Sign-in or register now to continue.


Contact Us

  • Duke University Press
  • 905 W. Main St. Ste 18-B
  • Durham, NC 27701
  • U.S. phone (toll-free): 888-651-0122
  • International: 1-919-688-5134
  • orders@dukeupress.edu