Testing Grounds

Testing Grounds

The latest industry being outsourced to India is clinical drug trials. Any number of tragic things can happen on the way to your medicine cabinet.

At the India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, the deaths of 49 children during clinical trials at the hospital prompted questions about the latest outsourcing business to sweep India. This narrated video report by the St. Petersburg Times (TampaBay.com), incorporating interviews with Indian patients and their families, shows that oversight is lax and options are few for participants in India’s booming clinical trial business.

The overstretched government hospital and medical college treats about four million people a year. It’s also one of a growing number of Indian hospitals that use their patients to gather data on experimental drugs destined for Western markets. Though the hospital blamed the 49 children’s deaths on underlying illnesses, the news triggered unease about a drug-testing phenomenon, propelled by mountains of money, that has swept India with little publicity. As the world flattens, India is not just answering our tech calls. Global drug companies are tapping its population of nearly 1.2-billion to test the safety and effectiveness of compounds that, if approved, will end up in medicine cabinets in the United States. The distance has been compressed between a patient trying a new diabetes drug in New Delhi and the retiree who will buy that prescription in New York.

It is a problematic situation because, first of all, the data must be applicable to the U.S., where the population may differ in clinically significant ways. Secondly, oversight is lax. In the past three years, the FDA has inspected just eight of the thousands of trial sites in India.

Video & Photos: Kathleen Flynn
Story: Kris Hundley

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