By Joe Mathew, New Delhi
A Union health ministry probe has revealed that pharmaceutical majors conducting clinical trials in India have not given compensation to majority of the volunteers who died during the trials. Of the 671 deaths that were reported in 2010, the ministry has evidence of just three cases of compensation.
The ministry has asked 44 pharmaceutical companies, including global drug majors such as Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, Bayer, Merck, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi Aventis, to explain why they have not given the compensation, which is mandatory under the current drug laws.
A Novartis spokesperson said the clinical trial investigator (who conducted the trial for Novartis) had asserted the deaths were not because of the study medication but due to progression of underlying disease (which won’t necessitate compensation). Similar arguments were made by most pharmaceutical firms that figured in the list.