Toshiba's Human Guinea Pig Offends Real Test Subjects

Ad called irresponsible for portrayal of clinical trials

You don't often hear about the clinical research community raising a ruckus, but Toshiba's new ad seems to be getting the lab crowd in a lather. The spot, touting the Toshiba Satellite Ultrabook's rigorous testing before release, stars a "professional medical test subject" who endures an array of cruel and unusual side effects. There's actually no such thing as a full-time human guinea pig, but those involved in real clinical testing have posted several angry comments on YouTube saying the ad is socially irresponsible. "This message completely undermines the efforts of the FDA, NCI, institutional review boards and other medical research organizations who work so hard every day to ensure that clinical trials are conducted SAFELY so that participants are protected and NOT harmed," notes one viewer. "Medical research is important," says another, "and this trivializes the whole process. Toshiba should be ashamed." (For a good read on the history and reality of clinical testing, be sure to check out Slate's recent write-up on the topic.) Given the relatively small audience of medical testing volunteers, it's unlikely Toshiba will give in to demands to pull the ad or issue an apology.