Bhopal/New Delhi: An RTI has revealed that Bhopal gas tragedy victims are being used as guniea pigs for drug trials in hospitals. At least 12 victims have died in illegal drug trials till now. The Supreme Court has come down heavily on the Madhya Pradesh government after an NGO filed a PIL.
Ramadhar Srivastava is one of thousands of Bhopal gas tragedy victims but the trauma he suffered at a specialist hospital, opened to treat victims like him, was worse. He says he was used as a guinea pig in illegal drug trials but he is lucky to have survived. "They used me for clinical worse," says Ramadhar Srivastava, who is an electrician.
But Lakshmi Bai's husband Shankar Lal was not so lucky. "The hospital killed my husband," says Lakshmi Bai.
Records at the Bhopal Memorial Hospital and Research Centre (BMHRC) show that drug trials were conducted on 279 patients of which 215 were gas victims. At least 12 of them died from medication supplied and many were poor patients who relied on the hospital for free treatment.
"The gas tragedy victims on whom these trials have been done were really ill. They were fighting their last battle. The hospital authorities understood that they are not going to survive. Hence, they carried out the trials on them. Because the doctor and the hospital were getting money for every patient enrolled,' said social activist Rachna Dhingra.
Even these figures are hard to believe because the records don't seem to be complete. According to the Central Drug Standards Control Organisation, seven drug trials were conducted at the BMHRC but the hospital records show 10 and documents filed by pharmaceutical companies with the US government show 13 trials were conducted. The Drug Controller General of India has, however, only three of these trials.
"I cannot say anything unless I get the details of how the ethical committees gave approval for this. When the same questions on trials conducted were asked about a year ago, we were told that the trials stopped in 2008. We forwarded that report. But now since you're telling me this, we will definitely investigate this matter," said Secretary, Health Research Dr V M Katoch
CNN-IBN had shown in 2010 how drug trials were being conducted in hospitals in Madhya Pradesh. The Supreme Court has now come down heavily on the central and state governments.