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[June 22, 2014]
Drugs giant sorry for trials pitch to interns
(Observer (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) GlaxoSmithKline, the pharmaceuticals multinational, has apologised after being accused of playing on the hardship of unpaid interns to recruit them to take part in clinical trials.
A marketing firm working for the company sought to place a blog on careers websites boasting that involvement in drug trials could help graduates to finance their way through unpaid work placements.
In a proposed "guest blog" for the website Graduate Fog, an employee at TouchPoint Digital, working on behalf of GSK, wrote: "Clinical trials could be your solution." A spokesman for GSK told the Observer the behaviour of the marketing company had been "unacceptable" and that it was no longer working with the firm. TouchPoint, of Cambridge, had contacted Graduate Fog with the suggestion of an "informative article about ways to earn money while job hunting, ie temporary solutions when struggling financially", targeted at those who could not afford to take an unpaid internship.
The proposed article read: "Depending on the length of the study, you could earn up to pounds 2,000 per trial for up to 4 trials a year, plus reasonable travel expenses." The founder of Graduate Fog, Tanya de Grunwald, said she rejected the article as "not just crass [but] downright irresponsible".
GSK said it did not usually "specifically target young people in ads for clinical trial participants or approve of the use of inducements to recruit subjects of any age". It added: "The tone used here is wrong. It trivialises the role of clinical trials in developing new medicines and the part our volunteers play in that process." (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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