Poor Pregnant Women with Herpes Don’t Get Meds, and Someone Notices

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


GlaxoSmithKline, in testing their herpes med, Valtrex, may have put women in harm’s way. This according to Public Citizen, which, in the Dec 1 issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology accuses the pharma giant of withholding important medication from poor and minority women.

In a recent clinical trial 168 pregnant women were given a placebo rather than an alternative herpes drug, while the other 170 were given medication. This, despite the fact that research has shown that the drug and its generic, acyclovir, reduces risks associated with herpes and pregnancy (the virus can be fatal for infants who contract the disease at birth).

The study, which took place earlier this year and was funded by GlaxoSmithKline, enrolled more than 300 black and Hispanic pregnant women at Parkland Hospital in Dallas. The hospital serves a largely indigent population. Public Citizen’s Dr. Peter Lurie is outraged:

“What I don’t understand is how you can do a research study and conclude that a drug is effective and then stare a bunch of pregnant women in the face and withhold the very drug you’ve just recommended.”

A doctor involved in the study, Dr. George Wendel, would not comment specifically on allegations that poor women were taken advantage of, instead saying that the study was designed and conducted “according to good research practices” and was approved by the hospital’s ethics review board.

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

So we tried to explain why your year-end donations are so essential, and we'd like your help refining our pitch about what make Mother Jones valuable and worth reading to you.

We'd also like your support of our journalism with a year-end donation if you can right now—all online gifts will be doubled until we hit our $350,000 goal thanks to an incredibly generous donor's matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate