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Recently, the United States ended its rotavirus vaccination programme amid fears over side effects — yet trials of the vaccine are being introduced in developing countries. The virus is one of the most common causes of infant diarrhoea.

In this letter, Dherain Narula and colleagues from St. Stephen's hospital in Delhi, India, argue that in developing countries, trials of the vaccine are unethical. They say such trials counter the Helsinki Declaration — which suggests they should only be carried out in populations set to use the drug — because poorer countries simply cannot afford the vaccine.

Urging trials in the developing world will, the authors say, force people in these countries to act as guinea pigs for the industrialised world.

Link to full letter by Dherain Narula et al in The Lancet

Reference: The Lancet 364, 245 (2004)