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1542 people die during drug trials in India in past three years
The information revealed in the Lok Sabha about the clinical trials in India is a cause of concern. The most surprising revelation is that not a single case of death has been investigated yet, and what to say about the compensation to any victim's family?

The death toll in drug trials in the country stands at 1542 over the past three years. It was 668 in 2010 where only 22 cases were attributed to deaths on account of clinical trials. In 2011, 438 deaths happened in drug trials, but companies paid compensation to just 16 persons.

The Health Ministry had changed the procedures governing compensation and the Drug Controller General of India will now be the final authority to determine compensation.

The clinical trials claimed 436 lives in 2012, which needs serious consideration by the government. No doubt, there is a serious need for clinical trials, but pharmaceutical industry has now become a powerful industry, driven only by profit. The MNCs conduct clinical trials of new drugs, on the people who are economically weak and underprivileged. The poor have become a trial subject in lieu of a meager amount of money.

In fact, the commercial interests prevail over ethical concerns. The safety of human life cannot be compromised at any cost. It is time the government woke up for better regulation. The improper clinical trials not only put the patients in danger, but also would create havoc for all those patients who are given the medicines after their sanction. No doubt, such trials were also being conducted in the past but using the citizens of an independent and democratic country is a blot on our system.

Firms visit India in droves as the cost of testing is 80 percent lesser than in the developed world. As such, there is need to adopt safety standards in the case of the drug trials, so that people are not reduced to the level of laboratory animals.

The rules should also be framed to specify that trials would be allowed only in cases where the firm in question signs an undertaking to make the drugs available to Indians at affordable prices.

Presently, different companies continue to pay different compensations. The government should fix minimum compensation in cases of deaths and injuries during drug trials. It would be more appropriate if the pharmaceutical company provides a family member of a victim with a job so that he can look after the family members.


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