Orphans in AIDS Drug Trials – Radio Interview

January 15, 2010

Orphans in AIDS Drug Trials – Radio Interview with Liam Scheff, and ICC childcare worker Mimi Pascual on the Lizz Brown Show.  The following transcript is taken from mimi-jpeg.JPGthe 2005 radio interview on the Lizz Brown Show (lizzbrown.com), featuring Mimi Pascual, former ICC orphanage childcare worker and Liam Scheff, who broke and investigated the story. Mimi worked at ICC for 8 years over a ten year period. Her story is told in “Inside Incarnation” [1]

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Inside Incarnation NYPress Orphans 30 to 50 percent
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Lizz Brown: Welcome back to the Wakeup Call with Lizz Brown. Liam we have Mimi Pascual on the line. Talk to us about who Mimi is.

 

Liam Scheff: Mimi was a childcare worker at ICC for about 10 years, Mimi cared for the children at ICC, she was also responsible for drugging them.

Now, Mimi’s not a nurse, she wasn’t trained as a nurse. In fact, none of the women in the early experience at Incarnation were nurses, who were giving these kids the drugs. Mimi gave the kids the drugs daily nightly, all through the night.

Lizz Brown: Mimi, Liam was describing some of your duties as an ICC worker. What were some of the things with the children in regard to giving them drugs?

Mimi Pascual: In regards to giving them meds, we were responsible for everything, basically: day to day flows, food, and meds was part of their day to day so.

Lizz Brown: How did the children respond to, as you say, the ‘meds’ that you were giving them?

Mimi Pascual: Some of them didn’t want to take it, and some of them – because we were dealing with them, so much on a daily basis, like a mother – they would just take it to get it over with, for you. So, every case was different, every child was different.

Lizz Brown: The children who said they didn’t want to take it, were they serious about this? Were they adamant about this? How did they express this to you?

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Mimi Pascual: Well, the older ones… when I first started working there it was just babies, so they really couldn’t talk. They just threw it back up. As they got older, they started saying, “Meds refusal, med refusal, med refusal.” Where they refused it “X” amount of times.

Lizz Brown: Why did they refuse it? What were some of the physical reasons that they were saying, “I don’t want this?”

Mimi Pascual: Some of them, it made them so sick that they couldn’t get up, and go to school. Or where they were in school, they couldn’t function like regular kids, so they just so they just didn’t want it.

Lizz Brown: When they got sick, what kind of symptoms did they display?

Mimi Pascual: Stomach cramping, mostly that, and constant diarrhea, you know, that wouldn’t allow them to stay focused in the classroom, like a regular child would. Sleepy – a lot of the kids, you know, they were just drugged so much they were just tired. They couldn’t function.

Lizz Brown: When the children refused to take the drugs, what would happen to them?

Mimi Pascual: You could only refuse “X” amount of times. After that you get a tube inserted into you, a G-tube.

Lizz Brown: A G-tube was inserted into the children. Did you insert that, or how did they…?

Mimi Pascual: Oh no, that was inserted surgically.

Lizz Brown: So they were sent to doctors to get tubes put into their bellies to take the drugs?

Mimi Pascual: Yeah.

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Lizz Brown: Mimi, when you would watch the children as you were putting these drugs, these medications into them, what how did you see the infants respond to this?

Mimi Pascual: The only direct thing you see, you get a little diarrhea or a little – not a little – you get diarrhea [from the children] or you [they] throw up, and that was… For us it became so regular, that we were like, “Okay this is normal.”

After awhile, other kids would react different, maybe one will break out in a rash. One of my kids came in, she came in just fine, and she had a stroke, and went blind.

Lizz Brown: After being given these meds?

Mimi Pascual: Yeah. Supposedly her case was, [that] she wasn’t aware of her HIV status; so, [because] she wasn’t aware, she wasn’t taking medicine. They put her in there for that.

Lizz Brown: How long were you there at ICC?

Mimi Pascual: Almost 10 years.

Lizz Brown: Were the kids getting better with the stuff you put into them, or were they getting worse?

Mimi Pascual: Like I said, every child’s different. I noticed that the kids that had mental issues, like, the medicines really didn’t even phase them at all – they wasn’t even taking that much medicine.

There was other kids, you know, the moment you gave them [the drugs], their body would just reject it, from whatever means – vomiting, diarrhea, throwing up, rashes, stroke. It would just reject it. Every case was different.

Lizz Brown: You’re no longer are working for ICC, are you?

Mimi Pascual: No, [not for] half a year.

Lizz Brown: After having time to be away from ICC, to look back on what you were doing, do you feel that what you did with the medicine – what you were told to do – with the medications, do you think it made the kids better?

Mimi Pascual: Hmm, No, no. not, no.

I mean, you know what? To live longer is one thing, but to live longer in pain and to have all the complications like I saw the kids having, like, okay, now you’re eighteen, but now you’re growing a breast – and you’re a boy. Or your body’s been through so much damage that you look deformed. I don’t think that’s a quality of life.

Liam Scheff: Can I add one thing? The perception there, and I think that’s drummed into everyone’s head, is that the drugs will make you live longer. But, longer than what? Longer than the perception that you’re “supposed to” die at a certain age. So, they’ll say that the [negative drug] effects are very, very, very strong, terrible.

As Mimi said, a girl who had never been told that she was ‘positive’ therefore never took the drugs and was not sick, came in, and within a few months, on these drugs, AZT and others, had a stroke went blind, and died a few months later. You can’t tell me she lived “longer.”

I don’t think Mimi would say that either. But the general perception from doctors who want to defend this kind of thing is, ‘Yeah, they’ll live longer than…’ Than what? Not than they lived – than they were “supposed” to live. [But] who decided [how long they were supposed to live]? The doctors decided.

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Lizz Brown: And if the prognosis is that “You’re going to die,” I guess any day past that is, something that you could argue, is proof of your argument.

Liam Scheff: It’s a very circular argument and it only works in favor of the drug companies, not the children.

Mimi Pascual: Like I said to Liam, If you think that they are going to live as long as you guys [the doctors/administrators of ICC] think they’re going to, why don’t you make plans for them to live well?

Lizz Brown: Did other nurses talk about it? Did you all sit around and talk about – not nurses, but other child-care workers – did you talk about – because you weren’t a nurse – did you all sit around and talk about how the babies were faring under these drugs?

Mimi Pascual: Every day. Every day it was the topic of conversation. but you just couldn’t prove it, everybody has their own opinions as well. There are some people who believe others have to suffer in order for others to live; and then, you know, you’d get into arguments about that. everyday was something new.

Lizz Brown: Did you feel bad, Mimi, did you ever feel bad, putting these medications into these babies?

Mimi Pascual: Uhm. You know what, in the beginning, you think you’re doing them good. Because if it’s not you, who else is going to do it? And who else is going to care for them like you care for them?

And a lot of the girls adopted these children too, so you get attached to them, and you really think you’re doing them good.

And especially with [drug] studies, you don’t know what you’re getting yourself into; it took us “X” amount of years, to really say Wow. Look what happened to so-and-so, from the day he came in here to where he’s at now.

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Lizz Brown: Did you feel bad about that?

Mimi Pascual: Of course! Of course.

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Liam Scheff has worked as an investigative journalist, and as such was published in the New York Press, LA Citybeat, Boston’s Weekly Dig, Hustler and the Guerrilla News Network, among others. In 2004 he broke open the NIH clinical trial scandal – government researchers using New York City orphans in clinical trials with combinations of highly toxic, speculative drugs. The story has been covered internationally.

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