On Wednesday the House Ways and Means Committee's subcommittee on human resources will hear testimony as to "whether adequate protections are in place" to protect foster children used in federal research. The Associated Press recently detailed the use of foster children, mostly poor or minority, in federally funded anti-HIV drug studies since the late 1980s. Often this occurred without assigning an independent advocate, a protection provided in federal law and required by certain states. While receiving cutting-edge treatment at government expense, in some cases extending their lives, the children were also exposed to risks without the benefit of an advocate to protect their interests.
"This hearing will explore issues surrounding the placement of foster children in clinical drug trials, including under what conditions participation is permitted," said the subcommittee chairman, Republican representative Wally Herger of California. "We are concerned about recent allegations involving the enrollment of foster children in such trials. This hearing will help us assess whether there is any substance to these allegations, and if so, what response is appropriate." (AP)