RNW Dutch Press Review - 19 February 2008

19th February 2008, Comments 0 comments

A roundup of today's press from Radio Netherlands.

By Frank Scimone
Trouw's front page leads with the headline ‘Pills tested on vulnerable patients.’ The paper presents the results of a Dutch study A Bitter Pill, which will be presented tomorrow to members of the European Parliament. The study has found that pharmaceutical companies are violating ethical rules by testing medicines in poorer countries "in a manner not permitted in the European Union. "

Trouw writes that "patients who participate in the studies do not always receive the medicines they desperately need." One group receives a fake pill while the other receives the new medicine. The paper reports that in the EU and the United States such studies cannot be carried out, because if it is found that the medicine is effective patients receiving a placebo are immediately given the medication.

According to the study A Bitter Pill, pharmaceutical companies prefer poorer countries because tests are less expensive to carry out, rules are easier and it is easier to find test subjects because "clinical research is often the only chance of getting treatment and sometimes also provides money". Trouw reports that the government of India passed legislation to make it easier for pharmaceutical firms to carry out clinical testing. "It is expected that in 2010 an estimated two million people in India will take part in clinical research. This will help India can gain 1.2 billion euros in income."
 People tired of 'reforms'
"Belief in the market has disappeared", leads an article in the left-wing De Volkskrant,  which describes how the perceived excesses of privatisation have led to a change in thinking. The paper writes that after fifteen years of pro-market policies, during the Cabinet of Balkenende IV " the pendulum is swinging the other way". De Volkskrant points out that it was only fifteen years ago that you would telephone via the PTT (the former Dutch state telecommunications company), receive an energy bill from the one electricity company in your region and, on Sundays, would have to go to the snack bar or pick up food at the Chinese restaurant because all shops were closed.

According to Labour Party leader and Finance Minister Wouter Bos "the belief in market was too great in the past." De Volkskrant says that six months after the centre-left cabinet of Balkenende IV took office, Labour has pressured the transport ministry to end moves to privatise public transport in the Netherlands' four largest cities. One of the first measures taken by Mr Bos as Finance Minister was to stop moves to privatise Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport started by his conservative predecessor Gerrit Zalm.

De Volkskrant writes that MPs from the Labour Party, which enthusiastically helped introduce the 'pro-market' policies in previous cabinets, are now among their most vocal opponents. However the paper writes that this is not surprising seen the gains of the far-left Socialist Party in the last elections - Labour fell to 33 seats in the 150-seat parliament and the Socialists jumped to 25. The paper concludes that "people are tired of reforms (...) and the market has a bad name (...) however, the pro-market operations of the past years will not be reversed."
'Us' and 'them'
nrc.next reports on a new trend amongst migrants in the Netherlands: well-educated Moroccans in particular are emigrating to other EU countries such as France and Belgium, because there is a "better atmosphere". nrc.next interviewed the 41-year-old social worker Mustapha Ayned, who said that things have changed since the killing of the film producer Theo van Gogh in 2004. "People saw me as the same sort of person as the killer."

Mr Ayned said that, after living happily in the Netherlands for fifteen years, all at once he was "downgraded to a foreigner. It was the atmosphere." He decided he'd had enough when even his best friend, a Dutchman, started to reason in terms of 'us' and 'them' and Mr Ayned found himself among the 'thems'. Mr Ayned and his wife packed their bags and left for a carefree life in France. There are no exact figures, but migrant organisations estimate that between 200 and 1000 Dutch citizens of Moroccan descent have moved in recent years. One study found that 35 percent of second-generation Moroccans want to move to another country.
Calming odour soothes Rotterdam police cells
De Telegraaf reports on a new experiment by Rotterdam police: "Recently troublesome and overwrought detainees at the Rotterdam police station have had been calmed down with a nice fragrance." An orange scent has been spread throughout the station, which not only has had a calming effect on detainees "but also creates an agreeable working atmosphere for police".

Rotterdam police report that the experiment is a big success because it has "most probably" led to a decrease in the amount of tranquillisers requested by prisoners. De Telegraaf writes that the experiment will be extended by another six months. If the second experiment shows that the demand for tranquillisers decreases by five to ten percent, the study will be considered a success.

[Copyright Radio Netherlands 2008]

Subject: Dutch news 

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