INDIA: Government admits clinical trial deaths

Clinical trials are research studies involving human volunteers which are undertaken to determine the effectiveness of a device, drug, treatment or diagnostic method. 

Of the 10 countries in Southeast Asia, the Philippines ranks third in terms of the number of clinical trials.  Worldwide, the Philippines is ranked as number 8 among the top 10 countries with a high annual growth rate of 30.9% in clinical trials. Government should ensure that every Filipino volunteer who participates in these clinical research studies are given due protection to avoid the experience in India.   


The government has admitted for the first time that thousands of people have died during clinical trials of new drugs produced by multinational pharmaceutical companies.

Federal Minister for Health and Family Welfare Gulam Nabi Azad said that 1,106 people died in the two years preceding March this year after undergoing human trials of new drugs.  Another 38 deaths were listed as mishaps in connection with these trials, the minister told the upper house of parliament in New Delhi.

Previously the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Family Welfare reported that the Central Drugs Standards Control Organization had approved drugs for sale in India without clinical trials, he said.

“This is the first time the Indian government has admitted so many people have died of clinical trials inIndia,” said Anand Rai, a doctor-turned-activist who has set up the NGO, Clinical Trial Victims of India, to help clinical trial victims.  Multinational drug companies have used Indian citizens as guinea pigs, he added, a process which he said had been fueled by the lack of accountability.

“In most cases, when people died during trials, the doctors listed their deaths as due to chronic illnesses to evade compensation laws,” said Rai.

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