Ramesh Shankar, Mumbai
Friday, February 15, 2013, 08:00 Hrs [IST]
Close on the heels of the scathing criticism by the Supreme Court of India for its alleged negligence in regulating the clinical trials in the country, the Union health ministry has been given yet another dressing down, this time from an unexpected quarters – the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
According to sources, the NHRC has issued a notice to the Union health secretary on February 7 on a complaint that illegal drug trials are being conducted on children without prior consent from the parents of these children. The Commission has sought a reply from the health ministry within four weeks’ time.
The human rights watchdog’s notice to the health ministry follows a complaint by a Delhi-based social activist RH Bansal in which the activist has alleged that the clinical drug trials violated the human rights of the innocent children. In his complaint to the NHRC, Bansal alleged that parents’ approval was not taken for subjecting their children to clinical trials, which is an illegal and punishable act in the law.
It is learnt that the social activist has demanded to the government to register criminal cases against doctors and pharmaceutical companies involved in these clinical trials. He is reported to have asked the Commission to direct the government to duly compensate the aggrieved families, as the doctors in the hospital had forced the children into clinical drug trials.
In his complaint to the NHRC, he alleged that three government hospitals used 3,479 children in past five years as guinea pigs for clinical drug trials without seeking the consent of the families. According to reports, Bansal had filed an RTI plea seeking details of the drug trials on children since 2008. According to the replies from the three hospitals, the number of such children was 2,056 in Safdarjung Hospital, 1,023 in Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital and 400 in Lok Nayak Hospital in Delhi.
Recently, the union health ministry had come under severe criticisms from the Supreme Court for the alleged negligence in regulating clinical trials in the country. Hearing a public interest litigation filed by Swasthya Adhikar Manch, an NGO working in the health sector, the apex court had remarked that the Centre had slipped into a “deep slumber” even as illegal drug trials on human beings by multinational companies were wreaking “havoc” in the country.
In its petition to the Supreme Court, Swasthya Adhikar Manch had alleged that large-scale clinical drug trials are conducted wherein Indians are being used as guinea pigs by various pharmaceutical firms.
New Delhi, 7th February, 2013
The National Human Rights Commission today issued a notice to the Secretary, Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, returnable in four weeks, on a complaint alleging that three big government hospitals in Delhi . conducted illegal clinical drug trials on 3479 children during the last five years. These include 2056 children at Safdarjung Hospital, 1023 children in Kalawati Saran Children Hospital and 400 children at Lok Nayak Jai Prakash Hospital.
The complainant Mr. R.H. Bansal, a representative of an NGO, in his petition to the NHRC has claimed that he got the information about the number of children subjected to clinical trials under RTI. He also alleged that parents’ approval was not taken for subjecting their children to clinical trials which is an illegal and punishable act. The clinical drug trials also violated the human rights of the innocent children.
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