TNN | Jan 8, 2013,
INDORE: The Supreme Court on Monday admitted a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by local activists alleging that pharma companies had conducted unauthorised drug tests of their vaccine on tribal girls.
The petition alleges that pharma companies, including Glaxo Smithkline and MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd tested gardasil and cervarix — two unproven HPV vaccines purported to prevent cervical cancer — on nearly 24,000 tribal girls in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, including 44 persons at the Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital (MYH). Of 44 patients subjected to drug trials in the state, 10 were males.
PIL filed by Kalpana Mehta of Indore, Nalini Bhanot and V Rukmini Rao representing Gramya Resource Centre for Women alleges that the testing had led to adverse effects on girls’ health and the pharma companies ignored their further treatment. Seven girls allegedly succumbed during the vaccine trial. The petitioners were represented by Colin Gonsalves of the Human Rights Law Network.
Admitting the case, Justice S Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra have directed the Union government to immediately file its reply on the issue.
The apex court has also directed that the Christian Medical College, Vellore, should be asked to examine the medical record of the girls in question and submit a report to the court.
This order comes in the backdrop of allegations by activists that multinational companies are influencing state governments to carry out clinical trials on humans, which are often not transparent or regulated efficiently. The PIL alleges that PATH, an NGO, had initiated a project for the introduction of the two vaccines in India by signing a MoU with ICMR even before they were licensed by the Drugs Controller of India.
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