The Body Hunters

Testing New Drugs on the World's Poorest Patients

An eye-opening look at big pharma’s unethical and exploitative drug trials in the global South—the true story behind The Constant Gardener

“Flows . . . like a detective novel. Shah has a good story to tell . . . and she tells it well, with three-dimensional characters that stand out from the page, and a narrative style that carries her argument along at a brisk pace.” —The Lancet

Hailed by John le Carré as “an act of courage on the part of its author” and singled out for praise by the leading medical journals in the United States and the United Kingdom, The Body Hunters uncovers the real-life story behind le Carré’s acclaimed novel The Constant Gardener and the recent feature film based on it.

“A trenchant exposé . . . meticulously researched and packed with documentary evidence” (Publishers Weekly), Sonia Shah’s riveting journalistic account shines a much-needed spotlight on a disturbing new global trend. Drawing on years of original research and reporting in Africa and Asia, Shah examines how the multinational pharmaceutical industry, in its quest to develop lucrative drugs, has begun exporting its clinical research trials to the developing world, where ethical oversight is minimal and desperate patients abound. As the New England Journal of Medicine notes, “it is critical that those engaged in drug development, clinical research and its oversight, research ethics, and policy know about these stories,” which tell of an impossible choice being faced by many of the world’s poorest patients: be experimented upon or die for lack of medicine.


The Body Hunters sounds an alarm that ought to be heeded.”
The Washington Post Book World
“Shah paints a painful picture of how many broken nations have gotten that way.”
The San Diego Union-Tribune
“A lucid, well-researched work . . . it deserves the attention of leaders of the medical profession and policy analysts.”
Journal of the American Medical Association
“[Shah] provides compelling evidence and suggests solutions that would still provide clinical data without exploiting the poor.”
Library Journal

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