Debating Matters Competition International Final

Saturday 20 October, 5.15pm until 6.30pm, Frobisher Auditorium 1

The Battle of Ideas will host the fourth UK versus India Debating Matters Championship, a showdown between the winners of Debating Matters Competition UK 2011/12 and the winners of the Debating Matters India Competition 2011. Known for its rigorous and intellectually challenging format that values substance over style, the Debating Matters international final will showcase the very best debaters from both countries. Students from Our Lady Queen of the Mission School, Kolkata, India and Graveney School, London, UK, will debate the motion Clinical Trials in developing countries are exploitative.

Until 1995, clinical trials were mainly conducted in the USA, Europe, and Japan, but in the era of globalisation, drug companies have been steadily outsourcing their research enterprises to the developing world. According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, approximately one third of the trials conducted by the 20 largest US-based pharmaceutical companies now take place abroad, many in developing countries. Western research institutions also play a significant role in trialling drugs in the developing world, with particular emphasis on diseases such as HIV/AIDS, TB and malaria.

Some argue the globalisation of clinical research brings global benefits, enabling pharmaceutical companies to test new drugs more quickly and effectively. But others argue ‘Big Pharma’ is exploiting the poverty of ill people in the developing world, by taking advantage of their need for medical help in order to make the maximum profit from new drugs. There is a concern that powerful companies and research institutions cannot be held to account by the poor, sick and frequently illiterate people who often become part of clinical trials, and that citizens of resource-poor countries are being used as guinea pigs for drugs. But others point out the dangers of adopting patronising attitudes to countries such as India that are in a state of transition, both in the diseases that afflict the population and where successful home grown companies are conducting clinical trials of their own products. So, who benefits from clinical trials conducted in the developing world? And are current regulations and practices adequate to ensure citizens of resource-poor countries are not exploited?


Sangeeta Bahadur, minister (Culture), High Commission of India; director, the Nehru Centre

Diana Gibb, professor of epidemiology; programme leader, Paediatric Programme, MRC Clinical trials unit, London

Rob Killick, co-founder and CEO, cScape



Arushi Dhupia
student, Our Lady Queen of the Missions School

Payaswini Tailor
student, Our Lady Queen of the Missions School

Georgia Haigh
sociology student, LSE

Aaron Stead
economics student, University of Portsmouth; president, Debating Society; alumnus, Debating Matters Competition

Justine Brian
director, Debating Matters Competition

Produced by
Helen Birtwistle history and politics teacher, South London school
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