What is the ruling on using prisoners for drug experiments?

Fatwa, posted 4.22.2010, from South Africa, in:
Religious Authority: 
Ebrahim Desai
Fatwa Question or Essay Title: 
What is the ruling on using prisoners for drug experiments?

In terms of sharia, it would not be permissible to use death-row prisoners (or any prisoners for that matter) as guinea pigs for testing the effects of certain drugs on humans. This is because such tests are being conducted without the consent of these prisoners.

Yes, if the prisoners are apprised of the situation that doctors wish to test these drugs on them and the drugs are such that have been developed as a potential cure for certain ailments (and they are not of a destructive, harmful nature) and furthermore, the drugs do not contain any ingredients that are considered haram (forbidden), then it would be permissible to test the drugs on them provided that they give their consent.