By Aarti Dhar
Writes to Ghulan Nabi Azad seeking answers:
Rajya Sabha member Brinda Karat has questioned the role of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) in the controversial Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine post-licensure observational study and pointed out that some officials of the institute acted as “partisans of non-governmental organisation PATH and the interests of the manufacturing companies instead of as representatives of an institution mandated to maintain as well as ensure the implementation of the highest level of ethical standards in research studies.”
In a letter to Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad on the findings of the final report of the committee that was instituted to enquire into the ethical violations during the study, Ms. Karat said the experience of this study clearly showed that it was most unwise to allow an institute such as the ICMR to go into the public-private partnership mode, as was done for this project as this gave rise to a grave conflict of interest.
Ms. Karat reiterated that her complaint was not against the HPV vaccine per se but only against gross violations in the design and implementation of the project, which was substantiated by committee reports and that compromised the safety as well as the rights of children.