Clinical drug trials in India ruins poors’ lives



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Friday 12 July 2013

Last update 12 July 2013 1:10 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

Niranjan Lal Pathak couldn’t believe his luck initially. When a doctor at a hospital in central India offered the factory watchman free treatment for a heart complaint, he jumped at the chance.
It was five years ago and the family of the 72-year-old says he didn’t realize that the Maharaja Yashwantrao Hospital in the city of Indore was about to enroll him in a trial of an untested drug.
“We were told that our uncle will be treated under a special project,” his nephew Alok Pathak told AFP over the phone from Indore, the largest city of Madhya Pradesh state.
“The doctor said we wouldn’t have to spend a penny. There was only one condition placed before us — that we should not approach local chemists if we ever ran out of his medicines but go straight to the doctor,” he said.
A petition filed by the family in India’s Supreme Court alleges that the drug tested on him was Atopaxar, developed by Japan-based pharmaceutical company Eisai and supposed to treat anxiety disorders.
His family and health rights group Swasthya Adhikaar Manch (Health Rights Platform) say that he would never have enrolled for the trial had he known that an untested drug would be administered.
The family also claims that the side-effects of the drug left Pathak suffering from dementia.
“He barely recognizes us. His life is finished and so are our hopes to see him healthy and happy again,” Alok told AFP, his voice choked with emotion.
Many desperate and poor people in India are unwittingly taking part in clinical trials for drugs by Indian and multinational pharmaceutical companies that outsource the work to unregulated research organizations.
The record of Pathak’s treatment was maintained on a medical card and his family is now fighting a legal battle, one of scores of cases brought by people who say they are victims of illegal trials.
Testing pharmaceuticals on humans is a mandatory and expensive step for drug companies who must prove to regulatory authorities that treatments have no dangerous side-effects in order to bring them to market.
The Confederation of Indian Industry estimates that companies save up to 60 percent by undertaking the different phases of testing a new drug in India as compared to developed countries.
The clinical research market in India grew by 12.1 percent in 2010-11 with revenues of $ 485 million, according to report by Frost and Sullivan, a global business research and consulting firm.
The study, released in July last year, projected the industry to reach the one-billion dollar mark by the end of 2016.
But the legal case in the Supreme Court, which began in February last year, has helped to bring to light many of the alleged misdeeds by doctors in connivance with pharmaceutical companies.
“There has to be some sense of responsibility. Human beings are treated like animals,” Supreme Court judges R.M. Lodha and A.S. Dave said last year in a written statement.
In Pathak’s case, the hospital says the doctor who treated him administered the drug without authorization and had since left the institution, while Eisai declined to comment, saying it was unable to respond to enquiries on individuals.
“Eisai is committed to making a meaningful contribution under any health care system and undertaking all of its activities adhering to the highest legal and ethical standards,” it said in an e-mail to AFP.
Health campaigner Amulya Nidhi says the lack of strict regulations has prompted many pharmaceutical companies to look to India and other developing countries for the tests.
“In Europe and the United States the laws are pretty strict. India, on the other hand, makes for a less restrictive destination for drug trials because the regulator lacks teeth,” said Nidhi, who works for the Swasthya Adhikaar Manch group.
Swasthya Adhikaar Manch, which is fighting on behalf of some of the trial victims, says most of them visited hospitals for routine treatment but were subjected to trials without their “informed consent.”
“In almost all the cases there is no genuine informed consent,” said campaigner Nidhi.
“The label on the medicines often does not specify that it is meant for trial, and vulnerable people end up being used as lab rats,” he said, showing one such drug sample to AFP in New Delhi.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Al Hamzi, director general of prisons, has sacked Brig. Ahmad Al Shahrani, director of Jeddah prisons, after the case of a video clip about prisoners taking heroin went viral, according to local media.Quoting informed source...
RIYADH: Plans are underway to shift the labor dispute commission in the Ministry of Labor to the Ministry of Justice. Related discussions were held here Thursday between Justice Minister Walid Al-Samaani and Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqabani.The disc...
JEDDAH: Drifting has taken a heavy toll of young men who spent their time and energy in the pursuit of this dangerous game for lack of family awareness and guidance.Observers said that the last decade witnessed a dramatic increase in traffic accident...
RIYADH: A mass brawl between migrant workers at a company along Al-Thumama Road broke out in Riyadh on Thursday, causing the death of one worker and the burning of two police vehicles.A Riyadh police source said authorities received a report on Thurs...
JEDDAH: Thousands of expatriates living in Jeddah, who are non-Arabic speakers, were excited about the monthlong 36th Jeddah Festival.The Jeddah and summer festivals this year had a number of theatrical events, entertainment programs, fireworks, arti...
MADINAH: In a tragic Madinah incident, two children died and a woman was injured in a fire which broke out in a house.Capt. Naif bin Mohammad Al-Juhani, spokesman for Civil Defense, said the control room received information about the fire incident i...
JEDDAH: Saudi Aramco said it has financed building 63,000 houses for Saudis through the citizen house owning program implemented by the company. The company said it has granted 1,037 loans to Saudis to build new houses in 2014, stressing that this pr...
RIYADH: A special team of officials from the Ministry of Health, led by Deputy Minister Hamad Aldhwilaa, visited hospitals in the southern border area to ensure that services are available to serve patients in the Asir, Jazan and Najran regions.On ar...
DAMMAM: On April 30 1935, drilling started on test well No. 1 in Dammam. After seven months, only gas was found with traces of oil at a depth of 700 meters. So it had to be plugged. Drilling began on Dammam well No. 2 on Feb. 8, 1936, and started pro...
JEDDAH: A team of doctors at King Abdul Aziz Hospital carried out emergency life-saving surgery on a Kazakh pilgrim who was suffering from a rare disease, on the night of Eid Al-Fitr, according to a website.The 17-year-old Kazakh pilgrim was brought...
JEDDAH: Members of sector committees affiliated with the Council of Saudi Chambers have tried to reach a settlement with the Ministry of Labor that would allow laborers to work on their projects during the day.The attempt was made based on an agreeme...
JEDDAH: The increase in school fees has caused parents to remove their children from private schools and enroll them in public schools in Madinah.With the approaching new school year, many parents were surprised to find that school fees were increase...
RIYADH: The size of the tourism industry has crossed the SR100-million mark with around 130 organizations in the field and the revenues generated through festivals are approximately SR11 billion annually, experts have said. The figures have been prov...
JEDDAH: A total of 105 pay-and-park areas have been opened in the city, including Jeddah historical district, downtown market place, Bab Makkah, Al Andalus Street and Palestine Street.Hani Ahmad Abdullah, media spokesperson for Jeddah Municipality, s...
RIYADH: Moroccan Ambassador Abdussalam Baraka has praised “excellent” trade and bilateral relations between his country and Saudi Arabia and expected the ties to grow further.Speaking on the occasion of Morocco’s National Day on Thursday night, the e...

Stay Connected

Facebook