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Title:Protocol and beyond: practices and care during a tuberculosis vaccine clinical trial in South Africa
Author:Dixon, Justin
Periodical:Anthropology Southern Africa (ISSN 2332-3264)
Geographic term:South Africa
medical research
Abstract:Much of the current social science literature on the clinical trials industry focuses on the profit-seeking practices adopted by pharmaceutical companies and the contract research organizations they employ to enable the mass production and distribution of their products. However, what the current literature demands is further ethnographic engagement with the particularities of the diseases investigated, the local context and histories in which they are entwined and how these impact the affective relationships between clinical research organizations and their participants. On the basis of ethnographic research with a nonprofit clinical research organization specializing in tuberculosis vaccination in South Africa, the author argues that the complexities of TB mean that research into it necessitates frequent and often intimate interactions with research participants. These were perceived by researchers to yield opportunities to take an interest in the physical and psychosocial well-being of research participants which went beyond and sometimes ran into conflict with the requirements of protocol. The aim of the paper is to advocate more finely tuned attention to the challenges posed by the clinical trials industry today, an attention sensitive to the particularities of the contexts of clinical trials. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]