Draculan Clinical Trials & Indian Guinea Pigs

It is a horrifying scenario. The cancer patient is given a new line of treatment with painful injections into the tumor on their tongue. This is repeated the next three or four days. After a week, when the injections have taken effect, they are called for surgery. The unsuspecting patient signs the documents unaware of what is written in it. The doctors remove not only the tongue but also large parts of the jaw. The patients are then discarded while the tumors are sent to the John Hopkins University, USA. This experiment is repeated on 26 more patients. The doctors/hospital calmly make a massive Rs.23 lakhs from the ‘tongue export’. JHU and the company associated with the trials, Erimos Pharmaceuticals, get valuable information for a new drug that could earn them billions.

This is no story from a horror film, but a real-life account of experiments carried out on human guinea pigs in 2001 in the Regional Caner Centre in Thiruvanthapuram, Kerala. The drug was the M4N tested on humans even before being tested on animals. The doctors were the Institute Director, Krishnan Nair and Dr. Manoj Pandey. The patients who were then neglected by the hospital lived agonized lives. Many died. Devassykutty lay paralysed and bed-ridden in a tiny house, with a tongueless mouth. They are now penniless. Saraswathy Amma has constant and unbearable pain. Gopalan developed another cancerous growth very near where earlier one was removed surgically. Gopalan filed a case which was dismissed on flimsy technical grounds. He died one year ater filing his case.

Ironically after these failures and gruesome methods these two doctors were recently awarded a prize worth 1,000 euros for their efforts.

Not only that, in a highly retrogressive judgment on August 5 05 the Supreme Court, in the Dr.Jacob Mathew case, has de facto made filing any case against doctors/hospitals impossible. The judgement categorically lays down that an investigation officer should not proceed against doctor without obtaining an independent and competent medical opinion, preferably from a doctor in government service. In addition the court directed that a private complaint is not to be entertained unless the complainant has produced a credible opinion by another competent doctor to support the charge of negligence.

With such a judgment the ruthless doctors/hospitals can now have a field day fleecing patients and experimenting on them.

This decision has in fact cleared the way for the planned boom in clinical trials in India by imperialist TNCs. India is set to become a massive human laboratory. Earlier, in 2005, the government amended Schedule Y of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act to allow multinationals to conduct clinical trials on their own or in collaboration with local comprador companies. It has also lifted the customs duty on research supplies. Also all procedures for regulatory approvals have been relaxed. In this way the government has facilitated the entry of the TNCs to experiment on Indians. The global clinical market is a huge $10 billion and growing at a fast pace of which India earns $200 million. This is expected to grow to $1.5 billion by 2010.

Not only will Indians be used as guinea pig but the trials will cost a fraction of what they would in the US. Besides, India’s highly skilled medical professionals and sophisticated medical infrastructure makes it an ideal haven for the TNCs. By changing the laws the government has prostrated at the feet of this international drug mafia, led by Pfizer.

With all these changes in the law there has been a veritable influx of foreign companies in this line. In just the year 2005 there has been a gigantic 300% increase in clinical trials in India. Since the change in the laws Contract Research Organisations have mushroomed across the country, providing services, ranging from the translation of consent forms to the identification of people willing to be part of the trial. Pfizer has invested $ 13 million in research in India and it is at present conducting 20 clinical trials in the country. Eli Lilly India has about 17 projects going on in about 40 hospitals across the country and Glaxo has started seven trials recently and plans to shift one third of its trials to backward countries. Companies like Ranbaxy are conducting trials on behalf of MNCs. A US government web site has shown that in India, while in the beginning of the year 2005 US companies were conducting 8/9 trials, by November 2005 the figure had jumped to 50. It is a veritable gold rush!!

It is clear that in this offensive of global capital the imperialists will not leave any sphere for their loot, including the use of Indians bodies for their medical research. The gory details of the effect of such experimentation may never get fully known as these are conducted in total secrecy. Particularly after the Kerala exposures they will make sure that such exposures are not repeated. But through this the international drug mafia (not the hard drugs ones but the so-called legitimate companies) will make gigantic profits, while their ‘Indian’ accomplices will get the crumbs. The courts, including the highest are acting in complete compliance with the drug mafia’s interests. India is set to become the biggest human laboratory in the world.

And in this conspiracy against the Indian people the Indian government has been totally compliant, changing the laws to suit foreign pharma interests. Senior doctors and top hospitals act in collusion. Those who suffer are the people of the country. Today, no patient can be sure while entering a hospital, public or private, whether they will experimented on. Though mostly it will be the poor and uneducated who will be the victims, no one is safe from these predators. The governments policies have to be roundly condemned and opposed. While the Congress/CPM ruling alliance has taken the lead in introducing such policies the other parliamentary parties are totally silent. Only a vast movement of the citizen can effectively counter such horrific policies.



Fuck_Fizer said…
This is a shocking news.I am very disturbed at this nonchalance about our people. The SC too did not show enough application of the mind. Just how cheap our Indians?