The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Thursday issued a notice to the Union health secretary on a complaint that illegal drug trials were being conducted on children.
Social activist RH Bansal alleged that three government hospitals used 3,479 children in past five years as guinea pigs for clinical drug trials without seeking the consent of the families.
Speaking to HT, Bansal said he had filed an RTI plea seeking details of the drug trials on children since 2008.
According to the replies from the three hospitals, the number of such children was 2,056 in Safdarjung Hospital, 1,023 in Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital and 400 in Lok Nayak Hospital.
The notice from the human rights watchdog follows the Supreme Court’s recent criticism of the central government over clinical trials.
It had said that the Centre had slipped into a “deep slumber” even as illegal drug trials on human beings by multinational companies were wreaking “havoc” in the country.
It was hearing a PIL filed last week by NGO Swasthya Adhikar Manch, alleging large-scale clinical drug trials wherein Indians were being used as guinea pigs by various pharmaceutical firms.
In his complaint to the NHRC, Bansal alleged that “parents’ approval was not taken for subjecting their children to clinical trials, which is an illegal and punishable act in the law.
The clinical drug trials also violated the human rights of the innocent children.” He asked the NHRC to direct the government to duly compensate the aggrieved families, as the doctors in the hospital had forced the children into clinical drug trials.
“The government should register criminal cases against doctors and pharmaceutical companies involved in these clinical trials,” said Bansal. The NHRC has sought a reply from the health and family welfare ministry within four weeks.