Is India becoming a country of guinea pigs? By Rema Nagarajan The Hindustan Times Saturday, January 24, 2004 Indraprasth, January 24 - Is India becoming a country of guinea pigs? Even as reports surface of illegal tests being done on Indians -- last week HT reported how illegal tests were conducted on 790 Indian women -- the pharma fraternity is excited about the boom in outsourcing of clinical trials to India. The same low-cost, high-skills advantage that is driving IT jobs to India is helping the medical tests outsourcing market. A vast gene pool helps too. Statistics compiled by the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India indicate that the clinical trials sector in India has burgeoned into a $70 million market, and is growing at a brisk pace. This would be welcome, but the illegal tests have cast a shadow. Patients had not consented to being guinea pigs, and did not know they were being given medicines of unknown efficacy. Will this happen to more people? Pharma giants such as Pfizer that invest millions of dollars a year on clinical trials in India dismiss such a possibility. “The outsourcing of clinical trials could mean a huge source of foreign exchange for India. Just a few isolated incidents of controversy over drug trials should not be allowed to deprive the country of such a major opportunity. It is the smaller companies and fly-by-night operators that try shortcuts,” says A. Krishna of Pfizer. Analysts believe the clinical studies market could increase to $300-500 million by 2010. Another market forecast places the value in 2008 at $200 million and an eye-popping $1 billion if further incentives are introduced. Dr S.K. Gupta, head of the pharmacology department at AIIMS say that there has been a sharp increase in the number of proposals for clinical trials. The office of the Drug Controller General of India estimates that over 250 clinical trials are going on in the country. Pfizer alone has doubled its clinical research investment in India over six to seven years. Its total cumulative investment in India is around $13 million. Health secretary J.V.R. Prasada Rao says new laws are being framed. “Today what we have are guidelines for clinical trials. Now these will be converted into legislation and once that is in place there will be specific offences and penalty for violations,” he says. The question mark hangs over implementation. “We have a legislation to regulate organ transplant too, and yet the poor are being exploited. So how far can legislation protect poor patients?” asks a doctor. Testing territory Lower costs: Development of new drug costs up to $1 billion in West. In India, half that Patient bank: With a billion plus people, no dearth of patients with various diseases Vast gene pool: Testing drugs on various ethnic groups can determine how drugs work More at: http://hindustantimes.com/news/181_546779,00050003.htm Jai Maharaj http://www.mantra.com/jai Om Shanti Panchaang for 3 Maagh 5104, Saturday, January 24, 2004: Shubhanu Nama Samvatsare Uttarayane Moksha Ritau Makara Mase Shukl Pakshe Manta Vasara Yuktayam Shatabhish- Poorvaprostapad Nakshatr Variyan-Parigh Yog Vanij-Vishti Karan Chaturthi Yam Tithau Hindu Holocaust Museum http://www.mantra.com/holocaust Hindu life, principles, spirituality and philosophy http://www.hindu.org http://www.hindunet.org The truth about Islam and Muslims http://www.flex.com/~jai/satyamevajayate o Not for commercial use. Solely to be fairly used for the educational purposes of research and open discussion. The contents of this post may not have been authored by, and do not necessarily represent the opinion of the poster. The contents are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works. o If you send private e-mail to me, it will likely not be read, considered or answered if it does not contain your full legal name, current e-mail and postal addresses, and live-voice telephone number. o Posted for information and discussion. Views expressed by others are not necessarily those of the poster.