India: Pharmaceutical firms allegedly violated intl. ethical standards when they funded clinical trials on survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy

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Article
14 November 2011

From tragedy to travesty: Drugs tested on survivors of Bhopal [India]

Author: Nina Lakhani, Independent [UK]

Secret reports seen by The Independent reveal that drug trials funded by western pharmaceutical firms at the Indian hospital set up for survivors of the Bhopal disaster violated international ethical standards and could have put patients at risk...[refers to the following companies and includes comments by them: Theravance, Sanofi, Wyeth (now part of Pfizer), GSK, AstraZeneca, Quintiles]

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Article
14 November 2011

Without consent: how drugs companies exploit Indian 'guinea pigs'

Author: Andrew Buncombe & Nina Lakhani, Independent [UK]

Western pharmaceutical companies have seized on India over the past five years as a testing ground for drugs – making the most of…loose regulations which help dramatically cut research costs…Between 2007 and 2010, at least 1,730 people died in India while, or after, participating in such trials. Many of those people, often only eligible for the studies because they were ill, might have died anyway. Yet when there are complications…there is often a failure properly to investigate. Campaigners say…a lack of oversight has led to numerous situations where poor, sometimes illiterate individuals, recruited from city slums or else tribal communities, are used in the trials without giving proper informed consent…India's Health Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad…[said] 10 foreign drug companies had made payments to the relatives of 22 individuals who had died during or following trials in 2010…: Pfizer, PPD, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Amgen, Bayer, Eli Lilly, Quintiles, Merck KGaA, Sanofi-Aventis and Wyeth, which is now part of Pfizer…[Most] of the companies declined to provide details of the compensation, other than to say the figure had been agreed in conjunction with a supposedly independent ethics committee and the Drug Controller General of India. A spokeswoman for Eli Lilly also explained that payments…had been made to the relatives of three individuals who died while participating in a trial of…an anti-cancer drug. All three were in the advanced stages of cancer… [also refers to AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline]

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