The Nigerian state of Kano is one well-publicized example. In 2004, Kano's government refused to take part in the Global Polio Eradication Initiative sponsored by the World Health Organization out of fears that the immunizations constituted a plot to reduce the country's Muslim population.
According to The Associated Press, the boycott was initiated after Pfizer faced accusations made by families and human rights groups of putting about 200 children at risk during what they claimed was a poorly managed meningitis study 11 years ago.
Eleven children died, while others suffered brain damage, according to the Nigerian government, which this summer filed suit against the London- and Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company. The case is still pending.
Although the immunization boycott lasted 10 months, international health experts reportedly noted a rapid polio expansion, in a pattern that radiated from the west African state.
Shah says that the Kano example points to the public health issues at stake when countries lose trust in the pharmaceutical industry. "It's not that drug companies are trying to go out and harm people," she said. "They really hope and believe that their drugs will work."
Franklin Moyano, Santiago del Estero's health minister, told state news media that the province is conducting an independent investigation into the children's deaths. But the families of the children are taking matters into their own hands.
Ovejero, who wears a T-shirt bearing his late-son's photo, says that the family is planning to take legal action. The family also told Inter Press Service that their lawyer had been offered money to halt any legal action, but they rejected the offer.
A GlaxoSmithKline representative told ABCNews.com that the company was aware of reports in the Argentine press that Ovejero and his wife were offered money through their lawyer, but GSK said in an e-mail response, "The company has acknowledged this information through the articles that have been published in the media. Therefore, we do not have acquaintance of this fact."
In the meantime, Ovejero participates in weekly protest marches on the Plaza Liberdad, the town square. For the last month, every Monday around 7 p.m., close to 20 to 50 parents, extended family members and friends carry signs bearing the blown-up likenesses of their dead babies.
"Gabriel was born with a purpose," said Hoyos, Gabriel's mother. "His purpose was to bring justice."