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AIIMS orders probe into deaths

delhi Updated: Aug 19, 2008 23:23 IST
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Jaya Shroff Bhalla
Hindustan Times
New Delhi

The All India Institute of Medical Sciences on Tuesday set up a special committee to probe reports into the deaths of 49 children during clinical trials at the premier hospital, soon after the Union health ministry sought a report.

The five-member committee, headed by neuro department head Dr Madhuri Bihari, has been asked to submit its report within a week, official sources said.

On Monday, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss directed the AIIMS Director to probe the deaths expeditiously after the issue was discussed in the Governing Body meeting.

Meanwhile, Brinda Karat, CPM politburo member shot off an angry letter to Ramadoss saying the inquiry into the matter was inadequate. The letter reads: “According to me this (inquiry) is inadequate and skirts the main issue, namely the liberalisation of procedures for granting permission for the conduct of clinical trials putting at risk the lives and health of Indian citizens.”

In the letter Karat also criticised the phase III clinical trials, where drugs are tested on humans saying, the multinational pharma companies use the poor Indian citizens as “guinea pigs.”

Karat further wrote: “More likely the consent is driven by vulnerability due to poverty or sometimes because they believe it is conditional for the treatment for which they went to the hospital.”

Earlier on Monday, Dr V.K. Paul, professor and head at the department of paediatrics addressed the media in an attempt to clarify all doubts saying that the death figure of 49 children included both those who were administered trial drugs as well as those undergoing standard treatment.

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