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

Author: Andrew Buncombe & Nina Lakhani, Independent [UK], Published on: 14 November 2011

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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Related companies: Amgen AstraZeneca Bayer Bristol-Myers Squibb Eli Lilly GlaxoSmithKline Merck Pfizer Sanofi Wyeth (part of Pfizer)