4 Unethical Medical Experiments That Used Africans As Guinea Pigs

African countries have been sites for clinical trials by large pharmaceutical companies, raising human rights concerns. Incidents of unethical experimentation, clinical trials lacking properly, informed consent, and forced medical procedures have been claimed and prosecuted.

4 Unethical Medical Experiments That Used Africans As Guinea Pigs

African countries have been sites for clinical trials by large pharmaceutical companies, raising human rights concerns. Incidents of unethical experimentation, clinical trials lacking properly, informed consent, and forced medical procedures have been claimed and prosecuted.

Currently, the number of pharmaceutcal companies’ sponsored clinical trials Africa hosts is more than you can find anywhere else…

Why is Africa so popular?

The below are reasons why pharmaceutical companies rush to Africa for clinical trials…

  • Fast-growing, treatment-naive population
  • Largely illiterate and uneducated public.
  • Large pool of diseases within population
  • Lower costs for conducting trials
  • No official natonal law on clinical trials

The common practice, once outlawed in the U.S., involves medical researchers setting up shops in Africa and beginning experiments on thousands of human research subjects without their consent or full disclosure. Some Africans, believing they were receiving routine medical care, are now used to test medications for HIV, malaria, meningitis, and other diseases, often resulting in infection and/or even death.

Unethical Medical Experiments in Africa That Used Africans As Guinea Pigs

1. Meningitis Testing in Nigeria: 1990s

In 1996 when the northern state of Kano was hit by Africa’s worst ever meningitis epidemic., Pfizer (the world’s biggest research-based pharmaceutical company) took advantage of the situation to test the antibiotic Trovan (a drug that was not approved in the US) and another drug called ceftriaxone on 200 children.

The tests resulted in the deaths of 11 children and varying degrees of injuries and other disorders including deafness, muteness, paralysis, brain damage, loss of sight and slurred speech.

An investigation by experts later concluded that Pfizer had administered the drug as part of an illegal clinical trial without authorization from the Nigerian government or consent from the children’s parents. This led to a lawsuit from the Nigerian government over informed consent.

2. HIV/AIDS Testing in Africa

In 1994, the U.S. government conducted clinical trials in Africa, through projects funded by Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World health organization (WHO) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The trials included testing of over 17,000 women for a medication that prevents mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

Although the trials were about preventing mother-to-child transmission of AIDs, the researchers refused to provide all pregnant women with a drug that could actually protect their infants from acquiring the AIDS virus during childbirth (even though a proven life-saving regimen already existed then).. Apparently it was far too expensive and cumbersome for the developing world. So what they were actually looking for was a simpler, cheaper, but still effective alternative for preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.

During the course of the trials, these women received drugs that had no effect in preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS, thereby making transmission likely. As a result, an estimated 1000 babies contracted HIV/AIDS.

The countries these trials took place include Ivory Coast, Uganda, Tanzania, South Africa, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Malawi, and Zimbabwe. In all, more than 12,000 women were involved in the U.S.-funded studies.

3. Forced Contraception in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe): 1970s

In the 1970s, to address the escalating population in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), a drug called Depo-Provera was introduced into the country. Upon approval, the drug was implemented as a measure for population control. Side effects of the drug included, but were not limited to, weight gain, irregular or heavy menstrual periods, a possible higher risk of breast cancer in women younger than 35, anemia, increased risk of HIV, and osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become weak.

According to reports, the white Government gave incentives to whites to immigrate, while practicing forced sterilization of some black women, without considering the associated risks.

Although this drug was approved for use in Zimbabwe, it was never approved for contraceptive use in the United States or the United Kingdom until later (under severe restrictions with full informed consent/warnings to protect women).

The drug was later banned in Zimbabwe in 1981, but the women who took the drug still carry the tale to this day.

4. Navrongo Experiment in Ghana

In a seminal family planning experiment, discussed in the Rebecca Project Human Rights’ 2011 report: The Outsourcing of Tuskegee Part II: Nonconsensual Research in Africe, it was revealed that researchers experimented with the birth control drug Depo-Provera – as a test run for a broader population control campaign – on approximately 9,000 impoverished women in Navrongo, Ghana.

The women in Navrongo were told they were being provided with routine healthcare, while data was specifically collected and analyzed for the research experiment.

The New Contraceptive in Town

The hidden side effects of Sayana Press

Speaking of contraceptives, the drug Depo-provera has been repackaged (with developing countries in mind) and is now known as Sayana press

To ensure that the new drug is introduced in every developing country, it is been subsidized by several groups, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, as well as the United States Agency for International Development.

As i type this, Sayana Press has already been approved by regulatory authorities in more than 40 countries across the European Union and in a number of focus countries in Africa. These countries include, Burkina Faso, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Uganda.

According to reports, Pfizer was able to receive approval directly from African governments by concealing fatal side-effects in FDA warning.

So to those of you who are taking it or who knows someone who takes it. I think you might want to read the side effect below .

Side Effects
One of the major side effect of Sayana Press is osteoporosis, a condition in which bones becomes weak. (Osteoporosis currently has no known cure).
The most annoying thing about this is that they purposely omitted this side effect from the website which they launched for inquisitive Africans who might want to know more about the drug.

Although Sayana Press is approved for use in Africa it is not approved or available for use in the United States where it is manufactured.. (If it is all that they paint it to be, why isn’t it approved in the US?? ). It is just produced there and shipped directly to Africa for African women to use.

The aim of the new drug, designed for self-administration at home without the need for healthcare professional supervision, is to boost the adoption of injectable contraceptives among women. Ultimately, its primary objective is to reduce the birth rate in Africa through any means necessary.

Uzonna Anele
Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.


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