Outsourcing clinical drug trials to India

In Madhya Pradesh, India, a controversy is raging over clinical drug testing, after a government report concluded that a number of patients participated in clinical trials without their knowledge or informed consent.

The husband of one such patient explained: “The doctor told us that the medicines will be given free and that they were going to be launched soon by a foreign company. Not once did he say it was an experiment or a trial. If I knew, would I have taken the risk?”

In 2005, India loosened the guidelines that regulate clinical drug testing.  As a result, participation in such trials rose precipitously, as numerous international pharmaceutical companies decided to take advantage of the country’s lower costs.

C.M. Gulhati, editor of the Monthly Index of Medical Specialities journal, summed up the trend in blunt terms: “India is emerging as a hub for drug trials, and Indian patients are like guinea pigs.”

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