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Cambodian Govt. Accused of Forcing Drug Addicts to Test Experimental Medication

posted 02:00 AM EST, Sat December 19, 2009
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Cambodian Govt. Accused of Forcing Drug Addicts to Test Experimental Medication © Photo Credit: StreetFly JZ

Human rights groups in Cambodia say health authorities are forcing drug addicts to participate in trials for an experimental Vietnamese detox drug.

The human rights organization, Licadho told reporters that Cambodian health authorties ‘rounded up” drug addicts over the weekend and transported them to a Pnom Penh drug treatment facility. Once at the facility, the addicts were pressured to sign consent forms for a medical trial of a drug under development by a Vietnamese drug company.

Naly Pilorge, the director of Licadhoa, said, “Licadho has great concern about whether people have understood what they have consented to, or what they were coerced into."

The drug, called Bong Sen, is produced by the Ben Tre Fataco General Import-Export and Trading Services out of Vietnam. Health officials in Cambodia say that the drug is approved for use in Vietnam, that it blocks opiate cravings and that all drug addicts participated in the trial on a voluntary basis.

The international community reacted with some alarm to the reports of forced medical testing. The US embassy in Pnom Penh sent officials to discuss informed consent with Cambodian Health Ministry officials and the World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement of concern, saying, "We have yet to understand how this new drug was introduced in Cambodia, apparently without rigorous review and due process on bioethical standards."

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