As it happens, a large number of deaths have taken place among subjects of clinical trials conducted on behalf of several MNCs and leading Indian firms like Novartis, Quintiles, Pfizer, Sun Pharma and Jubilant, as reported by Business Standard. Quintiles, a global leader in contract research, has emphasised that those participating in clinical trials are already afflicted and so death during trials need not be caused by the trials. That is indisputable — but there is dark irony in Quintiles having to defend itself when it pioneered clinical trials in India in 1997 and had then rooted for India by asserting, “Doing work here is globally competitive, emphatically so,” again in Made in India.
But there is another side to the deaths. The Tribune quotes Chandra Gulhati, who it says has led several clinical trials in the UK and is now investigating deaths which have occurred in Indore, as saying that the number of deaths will be much more than we will ever know. There is no independent audit to investigate the cause of death and the regulator simply takes the word of the investigator if it says that a death took place owing to prior illness. Such investigators are hired by the firm seeking to test its new entity, so “how can we expect them to be objective all the time?”
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