Supreme Court lashes out at Centre and Madhya Pradesh for lax attitude towards unethical drug trials

Gives eight more weeks to file their responses

By Ankur Paliwal
Published: Monday 16 July 2012

The Supreme Court of India has come down heavily on the Centre and the Madhya Pradesh government for their non-serious attitude in checking of unethical drug trials being conducted by pharma companies in the country. 

The bench headed by justice R M Lodha pulled up the Central and the Madhya Pradesh government for not filing their responses with the court in the given time. The bench said it is unfortunate that humans are being treated as guinea pigs and asked the two governments take the matter seriously. The court has given them eight more weeks to file their responses.

In its last hearing on March 26, the bench had given the two governments six weeks to file their responses on the matter.  

The court is hearing two public interest petitions filed by non-profits, alleging irregularities in conducting clinical trials in the country. 

A total of 2,031 people, including children and tribals, have died in the past four years because of clinical trials. But compensation has been given to only 22 of them.

The counsel of the petitioners also the brought to the court’s notice the 59th report of Parliament’s standing committee on health, citing irregularities in the functioning of Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). The report, which was released on May 8, had pointed out that so far around 33 new drugs have been approved by DCGI without conducting any clinical trial. It also threw light on the nexus between the DCGI and drug companies for approving drugs for trials.
The court also took note of the report of the Economic Offences Wing of the Madhya Pradesh government which had established that certain doctors in Madhya Pradesh were conducting trials unethically. The Court asked the state government why the doctors have not been punished yet.

“We are also planning to file an application for the Court to issue interim order for investigation into the matter, without which the entire truth will not come out in the public domain,” said petitioner Amulya Nidhi, campaigner, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, a non-profit based in Indore. 

While the clinical trials are being conducted unethically across the country, Madhya Pradesh has been in the limelight because of whistleblowers like Anand Rai, a public health activist and one of the petitioners in the case who has been unlayering the irregularities in drug trials using Right to Information Act. 


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